Who are the sandwiched generation and why it’s hard to be them 

We hear this term “sandwiched generation” being thrown around in the midst of our everyday conversations or through media reports. This group, in particular, seem to be quite hard hit when it comes to bread and butter issues in Singapore. But who are these subset of individuals and why do they seem to be struggling in the Singapore context?

Sandwiched generation who? 

People who fall under this category are typically between the ages of 35 to 60, often having to care for their elderly parents as well as school going children. While they juggle caregiving responsibilities for both their young and old, they are also likely to be working adults who are trying to balance their time between both work and home. A recent focus group conducted by the NTUC highlighted the plights of employees who struggle to balance caregiving and work responsibilities. Many Singaporean workers have highlighted that they wanted to see more help for caregivers as Singapore ages.  In the near future, caregiving will become more of a challenge.  As part of the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations, NTUC is continuing its engagement with workers who are also caregivers on their needs, to help shape policies that will benefit this group of workers.

NTUC launches #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations to refresh the workers’ compact

Challenges faced by the sandwiched generation 

Rising cost of living 

Following PM Lee’s recent speech at this year’s National Day Rally, a study by research company Milieu Insight has found that 9 in 10 respondents cited that their top concern was the increasing cost of living. 

Raising children in Singapore can be pretty expensive with childcare fees going into 4 figures monthly per child. For formal school going children, additional expenses such as enrichment classe, tuition, extra curricular activities and school supplies amount to quite a lot. 

Many from sandwiched generation also have to care for their elderly parents and their healthcare needs. An ageing society with a low birth rate also means lesser siblings to help out in caregiving and taking on heaftier healthcare expenses. 

On top of being sandwiched by the expenses from two generations of dependents, they also have to contend with rising interest rates on home and car loans as well as increasing utilities and food costs.  

Balancing home and work responsibilities 

Every working adult has their own challenges in the workplace and having to balance between work responsibilities and being a caregiver to both the young and the elderly surely compounds the stress. With only a finite amount of time daily, they would have to divide their time and attention between responsibilities. In addition, not everyone has understanding bosses or colleagues that might allow flexible working arrangements or telecommuting. 

For many older working adults, they might face the pressures of becoming obsolete with younger colleagues being able to learn faster or more technologically up to date compared to them. 


Little to no personal time

Getting caught up with all the responsibilities might leave little time for their spouse which might cause a strain on the marriage. They might also rarely be able to take time out for themselves to rest and recharge, leading to burn out or mental exhaustion. 

Delaying retirement plans for themselves

With so much financial burden that the sandwiched generation have on their hands, many might not be able to adequately save for retirement as they do not have the excess funds. This create a vicious cycle where they would then have to depend on their children to provide for them, placing their children in the exact situation as them – being sandwiched between generations. 

Overcoming obstacles 

As difficult as the circumstances are, those who are sandwiched should continue trying their best to be frugal with their spending, make wise investments, buy insurance to ensure loved ones are protected and start planning for retirement where possible. This will ensure their future generations would not have to go down the same path. 

Seeking help for caregiving through hiring domestic helpers etc might also be an option to ease caregiving duties. They should also prioritise their mental health, taking breathers where needed so they can recharge and continue to hustle, even as the going gets tough.