Socioeconomic Inequalities in Grandparenting: New Evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Giorgio Di Gessa, University College London
Karen F. Glaser , King's College London
Paola Zaninotto, University College London

Background and Objectives: It is well recognised that grandparents play a vital role in providing childcare to families. However, little is known about the nature and extent of care provided and whether more demanding/intensive involvement is associated with socio-economic disadvantage. Research Design and Methods: This study is based on grandparents aged 50 and over from wave 8 of the nationally representative English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (2016/2017). We exploit newly collected information on activities grandparents undertake with or for their grandchildren, the extent of (periodicity and frequency) and motivations for such care to describe grandparents’ role in family life. First, we estimated socio-economic and health characteristics associated with the provision of (any) grandchild care using a logistic model. Second, using multinomial logistic regressions, we examined the extent to which grandparents’ involvement in childcare is socio-economically patterned. We run separate models for grandmothers and grandfathers. Results: 61% of grandfathers and 69% of grandmothers looked after grandchildren in the preceding year, with about one third of grandmothers and a quarter of grandfathers reporting 2 or more days a week of grandchild care. Those providing more intensive care report supporting working parents as the main reason for such care; undertake more arduous caring tasks; and are more likely to be from disadvantaged backgrounds. Discussion and Implications: Grandparents who provide grandchild care more intensively are in worse socio-economic positions. Thus, greater attention needs to be paid to policies (such as provision of high-quality childcare) aiming at reducing inequalities in grandparenting while supporting working families.

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 Presented in Session 53. Inequalities in Care Received and Provided