Grandparenting: Still a Family Exchange for Older People?

Lynda Clarke, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Population ageing and family change are creating new challenges and opportunities for older people as grandparents. Recent evidence from a national quantitative survey and a qualitative survey in Britain has examined how this relationship is operating, with comparative American evidence. Contact and activities were very similar in Britain and the USA. Much variation existed between grandparents in what they did, how they helped and what they were willing to do for their families. Contact was frequent and grandparents often provided childcare, babysitting and other help but negotiation and non-interference characterized this role. Grandparents also expressed the wish to maintain their own lives and interests. Multivariate modelling from the perspective of the sets of grandchildren revealed that demographic factors were more important than socio-economic factors in predicting contact, activities engaged in as well as financial assistance to grandchildren. Lineage (whether related through sons or daughters) was more important than family type.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Aging