2021

Nearly half of California caregivers experienced financial stress during 2020


Research by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found half of CA's adult caregivers reported experiencing some level of financial stress.

two people holding hands

In 2020, an estimated 6.7 million Californians provided care for a family member or friend with a serious or chronic illness or disability. According to a study by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health's UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, led by Dr. Ninez Ponce, Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management, 44.4% of those caregivers reported experiencing some level of financial stress due to their roles, and 13.5% experienced a physical or mental health problem due to their caregiving work.

In the study, which used data from the center’s 2020 California Health Interview Survey, UCLA researchers write that caregivers received little financial support for their work: One in four caregivers in California provided 20 or more hours of care per week, but only 1 in 11 received payment for that work. And according to AARP research, people who care for a family member spend thousands of dollars per year of their own money on caregiving costs.

Sean Tan
Sean Tan

“Because they provide a significant portion of care for people with chronic needs and disabilities, it is vital that we assess caregivers’ financial and mental health needs in order to support the creation or expansion of policies that can alleviate any kind of burden they are experiencing,” said Sean Tan, the study’s lead author and a senior public administration analyst at the center.

According to the report, 57.7% of caregivers in California are women, 67.5% are between 26 to 64 years old, and 64.7% provide care to adults ages 65 and older. In terms of race and ethnicity, 40.7% of caregivers are white, 37.4% are Latino, 11% are Asian American, 6.3% are Black, 0.7% are American Indian or Alaska Natives, 0.5% are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 3.4% are two or more races.

Among other key findings:

  • 20.9% of caregivers reported that caring for their relative or friend was “somewhat” or “extremely” financially stressful. Those working a great number of hours were more likely to report greater levels of financial stress.
  • 28.0% of Black caregivers, 23.4% of Asian American caregivers and 21.9% of Latino caregivers reported that caregiving was “somewhat” or “extremely” financially stressful. Financial stress was slightly less prevalent among white caregivers: 17.7% reported that level of concern.
  • 21.5% of caregivers who provided 30 or more hours of care per week and 21.1% of caregivers who provided 20 to 29 hours of care per week reported physical or mental problems due to their work — both higher percentages than caregivers who worked less than 20 hours per week.

The majority of those surveyed spent between one and five hours per week on their caregiving duties; 24.5% of respondents provided care for 20 hours or more.

View additional data from the report in a Center for Health Policy Research infographic (PDF)

The study’s authors propose policies and laws that could help provide caregivers with income replacement and job protection, which are currently limited under California’s Paid Family Leave Act, and that would better support caregivers’ physical and mental health needs.

Kathryn Kietzman
Kathryn Kietzman

“Employment or employer agencies, resource centers and media can make dedicated efforts to raise awareness of paid family leave benefits so that the state can provide critical aid to an ever-growing population of adults who shouldn’t have to compromise their own health,” said Dr. Kathryn Kietzman, a co-author of the study and the director of the center’s Health Equity Program. “The state could implement policies that require health and social service providers to assess caregivers’ needs and create more programs that respond to the multiple challenges that caregivers are facing.”

by Elaiza Torralba


The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 761 students from 26 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.

Faculty Referenced by this Article

Dr. Ninez Ponce
Ninez Ponce
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. John Lu
Z. John Lu
Health Policy and Management
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Isomi Miake-Lye
Isomi Miake-Lye
Health Policy and Management
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Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Health Policy and Management
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Avram Kaplan
Avram Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Annette Maxwell
Health Policy and Management
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Galper, Michael
Michael Galper
Health Policy and Management
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Thomas Priselac
Health Policy and Management
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Olivia Jung
Olivia Jung
Health Policy and Management
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Thomas D. Gordon
Health Policy and Management
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Mark Litwin
Health Policy and Management
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Kadiyala, Srikanth
Srikanth Kadiyala
Health Policy and Management
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Vickie Mays
Vickie Mays
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Risha Gidwani
Risha Gidwani
Health Policy and Management
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Ty Robbins
Health Policy and Management
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Neal Halfon
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Aria Fallah
Aria Fallah
Health Policy and Management
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Jack Needleman
Jack Needleman
Health Policy and Management
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Roshan Bastani
Health Policy and Management
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Robert Brook
Health Policy and Management
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Warren Scott Comulada
Warren Scott Comulada
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Thomas Rice
Thomas Rice
Health Policy and Management
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James Macinko
James Macinko

Professor of Community Health Sciences & Health Policy and Management, and Associate Dean for Research

Community Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Nadereh Pourat
Nadereh Pourat
Health Policy and Management
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Alan Tomines
Health Policy and Management
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Ron Andersen

Dr. Ron Andersen is the Wasserman Professor Emeritus in the UCLA Departments of Health Policy and Management.

Health Policy and Management
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Laura Erskine
Laura Erskine
Health Policy and Management
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Stephanie L. Taylor

Nationally recognized health services researcher and sociomedical scientist with 25+ years' experience in effectiveness and implementation research.

Health Policy and Management
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Robert Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Jonathan Fielding
Health Policy and Management
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Yusuke Tsugawa
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William Comanor
Health Policy and Management
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Mangione, C
Carol Mangione
Health Policy and Management
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Aronberg, Sandra
Sandra Aronberg
Health Policy and Management
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Lillian Gelberg
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Samuel Sessions
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Barbara Berman
Health Policy and Management
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David Hayes-Bautista
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Felicia Hodge
Felicia Hodge
Health Policy and Management
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Susan Ettner
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Health Policy and Management
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Ron D. Hays
Ron D. Hays

@UCLA since 1997

Health Policy and Management
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Leah Vriesman
Leah Vriesman
Health Policy and Management
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Jean Balgrosky
Health Policy and Management
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Steven Teutsch
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Anthony Schiff
Anthony Hunter Schiff
Health Policy and Management
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Emily Abel
Emily Abel
Health Policy and Management
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Moira Inkelas
Moira Inkelas
Health Policy and Management
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Paul Chung
Paul Chung
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. William McCarthy
William J. McCarthy
Health Policy and Management
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Freund, Deborah
Deborah Anne Freund
Health Policy and Management
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Lori Pelliccioni
Health Policy and Management
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Patricia Ganz
Patricia Ganz
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Naomi Zewde
Naomi Zewde
Health Policy and Management
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Diana Hilberman
Diana Hilberman
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Kristen Choi
Kristen Choi
Health Policy and Management
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Jody Heymann
Epidemiology Health Policy and Management
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Jose J. Escarce
Health Policy and Management
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Joann G. Elmore
Health Policy and Management
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Daniel Eisenberg
Health Policy and Management
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Pamela Davidson
Health Policy and Management
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Michelle Keller
Michelle S. Keller

Dr. Michelle S. Keller is a health services researcher whose research focuses on the use and prescribing of high-risk medications.

Health Policy and Management
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Corrina Moucheraud
Corrina Moucheraud
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Dylan Roby
Dylan Roby
Health Policy and Management
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Julie A. Elginer

EMPH Academic Program Director with expertise in healthcare marketing, finance, and reproductive health policy, teaching in the EMPH, MPH, MHA program

Health Policy and Management
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Gerald Kominski
Gerald Kominski
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Jennifer Wortham
Jennifer Wortham
Health Policy and Management
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Jeanne Miranda
Jeanne Miranda
Health Policy and Management
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Emmeline Chuang
Health Policy and Management
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Arlene Fink
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Yvonne Flores
Yvonne Flores
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Health Policy and Management
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Paul Fu, Jr.
Health Policy and Management
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Brennan Spiegel
Health Policy and Management
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Burt Cowgill
Burt Cowgill
Health Policy and Management
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Michael Ong
Health Policy and Management
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Linda Rosenstock
Environmental Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Xi Zhu
Health Policy and Management
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Frederick Zimmerman
Health Policy and Management
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Clifford Ko
Health Policy and Management
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Kenneth Wells
Health Policy and Management
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Alice Kuo
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Beth Glenn
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