Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series
Chapter 27: Ageing and caregiving in America: the immigrant workforce
Ageing populations, decreasing care by families and increasing non-familial care in informal care settings are some of the factors driving growing demand for caregivers for the elderly. During the first decade of this century the number of caregivers grew faster than comparable occupations. And since 2011, the retirement wave of America’s baby-boomers will generate yet more demand for caregivers, although the impact of ageing is lessened in the USA compared with other nations due to past fertility and generous levels of immigration. Immigrants and their children are projected to account for 82 percent of population growth by 2050 (Livingston and Cohn 2012). Without immigration the US working-age population would be stable or decline slightly. Nevertheless, a wealthy society with a growing number of retirees living longer lives will demand an increased supply of labor for their care. Immigrants supplied close to 30 percent of the growing workforce caring for the elderly in the 2000s, and that raises many questions; some of the most important include: what roles do immigrant play, what do projections tell us about future demand, and how does the immigration system address demand? This chapter distinguishes professional care workers – physicians, dentists, nurses and therapists, who are highly trained and deliver medical care – from direct care providers. The latter workers – home health aides and lower-skilled providers – receive less training and assist the elderly with the challenges of daily living.
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