Pew report: US expectations for elder care are at odds with those in similar nations

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People in the United States are much more likely to say that seniors should be responsible for their own care, compared with people living in similar economies around the world, according to a recently released study from the Pew Research Center.

For its report “Attitudes About Aging: A Global Perspective,” Pew surveyed more than 22,000 people in 23 countries.

When asked who should assume “the greatest responsibility for the elderly,” 46% of Americans said the elderly themselves. Only South Korea had a higher percentage (53%) responding this way.

Only 24% of Americans said the government should bear primary responsibility for the elderly, which tied Indonesia as the second-lowest percentage. Pakistan ranked lowest, with 16% saying the government should bear primary responsibility, and 77% saying families should do so.

Overall, the United States emerged as an outlier nation in a variety of categories. Not only was it one of “very few” countries with a “large plurality” saying individuals should be responsible for their own care in old age, but Americans were much more likely than Europeans to express confidence that they will have a good standard of living at that stage of life, according to the report.

Only a quarter of Americans said the aging population is a major national problem, with only Indonesia and Egypt reporting lower percentages.

That may be at odds with reality, as public healthcare expenditures in the United States are projected to increase to 14.9% of gross domestic product by 2050, the report notes. This is the highest percentage among the nations analyzed.

Click here to access the full report, released Thursday.

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