INDEPENDENT CHOICES: A National Symposium on Consumer-Direction and Self-Determination for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities. Attitudes Toward Government Policies That Assist Informal Caregivers: The Link Between Personal Troubles and Public Issues

Merril Silverstein, University of Southern California
Tonya M. Parrott, Quinnipiac University
Reprinted from RESEARCH ON AGING, Volume 23, Number 3, Pages 349-374, May 2001, © 2001 Sage Publications, Inc.


With the aging of the population, families are increasingly likely to confront the caregiving needs of their older parents, grandparents, and other disabled relatives. This analysis uses national survey data to examine the preferences of Americans for public programs that directly assist caregivers in their activities. Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following three policies: directly paying caregivers, granting tax credits to caregivers, and requiring that employers grant time off without pay to caregivers. Although only one-third of respondents agreed with the idea of paying caregivers, more than 70 percent supported tax credits, and almost 60 percent supported time off to caregivers. Multiple regression reveals that current caregivers more strongly support all three policies, even when controlling for demographic factors, resources, values toward family responsibility, and political orientation. The results suggest that public policies that marshal informal services in support of dependent relatives will find greater favor because they enable the altruistic impulses of families to be fulfilled.

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