America’s caregivers need a basic income because caregiving is usually an unpaid job.
For instance, women family caregivers are 2.5 times more likely to be poor than non-caregivers, The Caregiver Action Network claims. Additionally, families caring for a relative with a disability had median incomes 15% lower than non-caregiving families in 2000, the Caregiver Action Network claims.
A 2015 AARP Public Policy Institute survey found 36% of adult caregivers over 50 reported moderate to high-levels of financial strain. The same National Alliance of Caregivers/AARP survey found 61% of caregivers with jobs take time off from work to help elderly or disabled loved ones.
How Caregiving Leads to Poverty
Caring for an elderly; or a disabled, relative can be a fast ticket to poverty. For example, a single woman caring for her 80-year-old mother with dementia could have to quit her job.
Consequently, the only income the woman and her mother could have is mom’s Social Security payment. The average monthly Social Security benefit was $1,381.79 in December 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates.
Thus, being a responsible adult and a good child can drive your family into poverty. For instance, a married woman caring for her mom with dementia could have to quit her job. That could force the woman’s husband to work two jobs to make up for the lost income.
In contrast, our society rewards an irresponsible jerk who dumps her mother into a filthy, low-cost nursing home. To explain, the irresponsible jerk can keep working and earn enough money for a comfortable retirement.
Meanwhile, the responsible woman will have no savings and retire with nothing but Social Security. Additionally, the responsible woman will get less Social Security because the SSA only bases your Social Security payment on the amount you work at a salaried “job.” Thus, the irresponsible jerk gets more Social Security than the responsible caregiver.
How Basic Income Could Help Caregivers
A basic income scheme; such as former presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s (D-New York) Freedom Dividend could help caregivers.
The Freedom Dividend will pay $1,000 a month to all American adults. Hence, the woman caring for her mother will receive $2,000 a month in income. To explain, both women will receive the Freedom Dividend.
Okay, the irresponsible jerk will also receive the Freedom Dividend, but so will the responsible caregiver. However, responsible caregivers will receive some income which is better than the current system which rewards caregivers with poverty.
Why Caregivers Need a Basic Income
We need to do more for caregivers because you could classify over 10% of Americans as caregivers.
For instance, the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP estimate 43.5 million Americans provided care for an adult or child in 2015. In addition, 34.2 million Americans provided unpaid care for an adult over 50 in 2015.
Plus, 16.6% of Americans (39.8 million people) cared for an ill or disabled adult in 2010, the Family Caregiver Alliance estimates. In addition, over 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for adults with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates.
America Needs to Stop Punishing Caregivers
There are currently 5.8 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Association predicts there will be 14 million Americans with Alzheimer’s in 2050. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association claims an American develops Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds.
Consequently, tens of millions of Americans will face the stark choice between poverty or caring for relatives in coming decades. A Basic Income could ease the effects of Alzheimer’s and a growing elderly population.
America needs to explore solutions such as the Basic Income because unpaid care giving is one of America’s fastest growing “occupations.” Our current system which punishes responsible caregivers with poverty is unsustainable.