Becoming Sandwiched in Later Life: Consequences for Individuals' Well-Being and Variation Across Welfare Regimes

Marco Albertini, Noah Lewin-Epstein, Merril Silverstein, Aviad Tur-Sinai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: The experience of being sandwiched between support obligations towards both aging parents and adult offspring is likely to become more common and more relevant. We aim at assessing the effect of demographic and social sandwiching on the psychological health and subjective well-being of individuals experiencing these transitions, and to what extent, these effects vary across welfare regimes. METHODS: Data are from 63,585 individuals aged 50-75 participating in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). We estimate within- and between-individual effects using hybrid regression models to predict depressive symptoms (EURO-D) and subjective well-being (control, autonomy, self-realization, and pleasure [CASP]). RESULTS: Among demographically sandwiched women, transitioning into social sandwiching and into supporting only parents was associated with a moderate but statistically significant increase in EURO-D and decline in CASP scores. The same association is not observed for male respondents. The pattern of variation among women living in countries characterized by different welfare regimes suggests that social sandwiching is less detrimental in Nordic regimes than in other welfare contexts. DISCUSSION: Results from the between-individuals part of the model indicate that there is a selection into social sandwiching of more healthy individuals into support roles. However, the within-individuals part of the model indicates that the transition into social sandwiching has a detrimental effect on women's (but not men's) psychological health and well-being. The explanations for this gendered effect of social sandwiching may be found in the "invisible" support provided by women and the gendered division of specific care tasks.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • CASP
  • EURO-D
  • Psychological health
  • Sandwich generation
  • Subjective well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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