Net worth of adults approaching retirement age: Personal health, presence of a chronically ill or disabled household member, and out of home caregiving


  • Patricia Patty Stoddard Dare Cleveland State University
  • Linda M. Quinn Cleveland State University
  • Shirley L. Porterfield St. Louis University
  • LeaAnne DeRigne Florida Atlantic University
  • Miyuki Tedor Cleveland State University
  • Cyleste Collins Cleveland State University


net worth, in-home caregiving, out-of-home caregiving, retirement, health status, chronic illness, disability, marital status


Using a nationally representative sample of N=3,614 U.S. adults (mean age 55.3 in 2016) from the 2008, 2012, and 2016 rounds of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79), we examine longitudinally the impact of personal health status, caregiving, and presence of a chronically ill or disabled (CIOD) household member on total family net worth (TFNW) while stratifying by marital status. Statistically significant repeated measures analysis finds having a limiting health condition was related to a reduction in TFNW for unmarried ($33.7K) and married respondents ($82.8K), as was having a person with a CIOD in the household ($49.0K decrease for unmarried, $79.7K decrease for married respondents). Conversely, being an out-of-home caregiver was related to an increased mean TFNW for both unmarried ($59.2K) and married ($75.4K) respondents. Our findings suggest an adult is at a greater disadvantage with respect to financial preparedness for retirement if they have both a work-limiting health condition and have a CIOD in their household than if they have only one of these characteristics or have neither characteristic. A unique finding of this study is that families with members who are chronically ill or have disabilities have lower and similar total net worth, whether or not the NLSY79 respondent identifies as a caregiver for that person. Implications for promoting equity based on these findings are discussed.