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A Third of Investors Help Parent or Grown Child Financially

A Third of Investors Help Parent or Grown Child Financially

Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • 32% of investors provide financial assistance to an adult family member
  • 61% of those who provide help say it hinders their own retirement savings

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- About one-third of U.S. investors (32%) report they provide financial assistance to an adult child, to a parent or to both, highlighting one of the challenges individuals face in achieving or maintaining financial security in retirement. The percentage providing such aid is a bit lower among retired investors (25%) than among those still in their working years (35%).

Summary of U.S. Investors' Financial Support to Parents/Grown Children
(Asked of 57% of investors who have a grown child) Do you currently provide any financial support to one or more of your adult children? (Asked of 62% of investors who have at least one living parent) Do you currently provide any financial support to one or more of your parents?
U.S. investors
%, All investors %, Retired %, Nonretired
Assist an adult child 24 22 24
Assist a parent 6 2 8
Assist adult child and a parent 2 1 3
Total assist 32 25 35
Total do not assist 68 75 65
Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index, Feb. 10-19, 2017

More specifically, about a quarter of all investors (24%) give financial help to one or more adult children (but not to a parent) and 6% say they help a parent only. Another 2% give monetary support to both an adult child and a parent.

Overall, 46% of investors who have one or more grown children are providing them with financial support. Also, 14% of investors with a living parent are doing the same.

These findings are based on the first quarter Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index survey, conducted Feb. 10-19 with a nationally representative sample of U.S. investors. For this survey, investors are defined as adults living in households with $10,000 or more in stocks, bonds or mutual funds, in an investment account or in a self-directed IRA or 401(k) retirement account. About two in five U.S. households meet these criteria, according to Gallup's polling for the Investor Index.

The poll did not ask respondents how much financial support they provide to each family member or to specify how the money is being used. In the case of adult children, a large portion of their contribution could be going toward college expenses. However, a 2013 Gallup study found that the "Boomerang" or "Peter Pan" phenomenon of young adults returning to or remaining in their parents' home is a reality for many households. In that survey, 14% of adults in their immediate postcollege years (aged 24 to 34) indicated they were living at home with their parents.

The Wells Fargo/Gallup poll also broadly gauged the impact that assisting adult family members has on investors' own retirement savings. Just over six in 10 investors who provide such financial support say it hinders their retirement savings a lot (11%), a moderate amount (17%) or a little (33%). This is equivalent to 20% of all investors who are negatively affected by the financial support they provide.


Families perform an important safety net function in society. They often pay for their grown children's education, supplement their children's income in their early working years, help family members through a financial rough patch, or assist aging parents with healthcare or other bills. While most of this likely occurs among family members living within the U.S., other Gallup research shows that many U.S. adults -- including about half of recent Latino immigrants -- send money, known as remittances, to family members and others living abroad.

Intrafamily monetary support, whether temporary or long term, is a reflection of healthy family bonds and, for the recipient, can be a welcome alternative to accumulating high-interest debt or turning to government welfare programs.

However, as the Wells Fargo/Gallup data show, it does take a toll on the giver. Even among U.S. investors -- those who have the means to accumulate at least $10,000 in investments -- the majority indicate that the family support they provide negatively affects their own retirement savings at least a little bit. And for more than a quarter, it's impeding their retirement security a moderate amount to a lot.

Survey Methods

Results for this Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 10-19, 2017, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,007 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia and having investments of $10,000 or more.

For results based on the total sample of investors, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index works.

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