If Millennials Aren't Making Money, How Can They Take Care of Their Parents?

December 20th 2016

Between student debt and less than stellar economy, a lot of millennials are financially miserable. And on top of that? While hoping their stagnant wages cover their own costs, hey have to worry about taking care of their aging parents someday.

Many surveys have shown millennials believe they'll be worse off than mom and dad. Some studies show millennials will likely earn less than their parents, and two experts who spoke to ATTN: said it will be hard for this generation to take care of another if its financial situation doesn't improve.


"According to our research," said Annamaria Lusardi, a professor of economics at George Washington University, "millennials are burned by student loans and other debt as well and display several signs of financial distress." As she told ATTN:, "These findings suggest that millennials may face difficulties supporting aging parents financially."

Richard Wolff, a professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, agrees. "Just as public and private pensions are declining or risk declining, the capacity of children to finance assistance to aging parents is shrinking while the life expectancy of aging parents lengthens," he told ATTN:.

What's the most expensive part?

If your parent is on their death bed, the cost of a funeral and other costs associated with death can be huge. The National Funeral Directors Association reported in 2014 that the average funeral costs are between $2,000 and $27,000, depending on how elaborate the ordeal. But economists agree the cost of a funeral is small compared to the costs that come before someone dies. 

tombstoneSue Rangell/Wikimedia -

"I think more than death costs, there are other costs to consider, such as assisted living or health costs," Lusardi said. Having to pay for a parent to live in an assisted living facility for years or paying their medical bills at the end of their life can add up quickly, and Lusardi recommends millennials start saving for these costs at as young an age as possible.

"Death costs are a small item," Wolff said. "The real costs are for care when health problems undermine parents' abilities to live alone, etc."

Is there hope for young people?

Lusardi said she is optimistic about the future for millennials. "Some of the advantages that millennials have is that they are technology savvy, highly educated, diverse and open minded," she said. "They are facing a much more complex economic system and are starting their career in debt, so they face a lot of challenges. But there is still time for them to build a better future for themselves and others."

Wolff was a little less optimistic. "Millennials are already burdened with college-debts, lower incomes than they expected, shrinking pension supports, and curtailed government social programs that may well shrink further in Trump's administration," he said. He doesn't believe there is much hope the middle class will be restored any time soon, and he thinks millennial support for Bernie Sanders shows this generation is hungry for change.

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