Meet SA’s ‘sandwich generation’

2010-12-01 07:34

More than 20% of South Africans fall into the “sandwich generation”, where they support both their children and their parents, according to Old Mutual.

This figure is much higher than in First World economies such as the USA/Canada, where 14% carry this burden. In the UK, the figure stands at 10%, while in Japan it is 6%.

“The sandwich generation is the generation of people squeezed between their own children and their ageing parents, and supporting both of them,” Old Mutual said in a statement on the latest findings of its Savings Monitor.

In 1990, less than 33% of young adults, aged 18 to 24, lived with their parents.

Old Mutual said almost 70% South Africans aged 18 to 24 lived at home.

“The figure for those aged 25 to 34 is a staggering 45%.”

Parents are also living longer than they used to.

“At the start of the 20th century, one in 20 people in their 60s had a living parent. Today that figure is nearly 50%. The sandwich generation has the daunting task of balancing the needs of their children and parents, with their own need to work and earn enough money to support themselves now and after retirement.”

The Savings Monitor showed a small improvement in South African savings habits since the financial crisis, but the sandwich generation needed urgent help.

They especially needed to take a “generational view” in their financial planning, and avoid dipping into retirement savings, no matter how tempting.

The monitor is a semiannual survey of 1 000 South African households in the main metropolitan areas that examines their savings behaviour and attitudes.

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