Unmarried grandparents providing child care in Italy and England: a life-course approach

Cecilia Tomassini, University of Molise

Ageing populations, and other demographic changes such as more mothers in the labour market and higher levels of relationship breakdown, indicate that grandparents are likely to play an increasingly significant role in family life. This is particularly true in countries, as in Italy, where there is more limited formal childcare provision or in countries, as in England, where the supply of care services for children has different options (public and private). With some important changes in the new generations of grandparents (e.g. increased proportion of divorced grandparents, changes in proximity, more older people driving, etc...), we are interested to explore how unmarried grandparents take care of their grandchildren. We particularly focus on how different aspects of family life (e.g. timing of marital disruption) and characteristics of the family structure (number of children and grandchildren, competing demands from different sets of grandchildren) may have an impact on the involvement of unmarried older people in children care. Using the retrospective information on two large Italian and English datasets combined with actual demographic and socio-economic characteristics, we will explore whether and how much unmarried older people take care of their grandchildren in two different political and cultural contexts.

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Presented in Session 14: Ageing and intergenerational relationships