More than a quarter of middle-aged adults are the PRIMARY source of income for their adult children

Pew Research is always an interesting source of statistics on just about everything in American life. Today I saw a statistic from their report on the sandwich generation that just about knocked me over. I’ve reported time and time again on statistics that show that large numbers of adults are providing financial support to their adult children. But I’d never before seen a stat capturing how many of those parents are providing the primary support for their adult kids. That means these parents aren’t just topping up an adult child’s measly earnings at an entry-level job, or providing occasional assistance when things get tough. Primary support means that these parents are still the biggest source of income in their adult children’s lives — maybe even the only source. Here’s the statistic exactly as it appears in the Pew report — and note that they define an adult child as a child aged 18+:

Roughly half (48%) of adults ages 40 to 59 have provided some financial support to at least one grown child in the past year, with 27% providing the primary support.

Parents providing support to adult children

I have to say, even after all the work I’ve done on this subject, that shocks me. Primary support is not just a few dollars here and there — it’s a massive financial commitment for parents who are in the age range that they need to be thinking about saving for their own retirement.