Trends in the prevalence of grandparent households in selected European countries and the United States

Giorgio Di Gessa, King's College London
Rachel Stuchbury, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Eloi Ribe Montserrat, King's College London
Anthea Tinker, King's College London
Debora J. Price, King's College London
Karen F. Glaser, King's College London

Our aim is to investigate trends in the prevalence of grandparent households over time (i.e. households including a grandparent-grandchild dyad) in selected European countries and the United States. We will also identify the socio-economic and demographic characteristics associated with variations in such households. Given changes in family behaviour (e.g. rises in divorce and step-families) and improvements in longevity, family ties among extended family members are likely to become more important, such as those between grandparents and grandchildren (Bengtson, 2001; Hagestad, 2006). Research from the U.S. has shown significant increases in the prevalence of multi-generational and grandparent-headed households. However, to date little is known in Europe about trends in grandparent households, the characteristics of these households, and how these characteristics vary across Europe. Given the important role that grandparents play in family life, a better understanding of grandparent households is likely to shed new light on a key aspect of grandparent care: those co-residing with grandchildren (Lewis, Campbell, & Huerta, 2008). Thus using the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series International (IPUMS) and the ONS Longitudinal Study for England and Wales we will use multivariate techniques to investigate how grandparent households vary across selected European countries and the U.S. and changes in the prevalence of adults living in these households over time. Preliminary results show increases in the prevalence of those aged 40 and over living in grandparent households in the United States since the 1980s. By contrast, of the European countries considered, only Romania shows a similar rise.

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Presented in Session 14: Ageing and intergenerational relationships