S4.3 Grandparenthood in Europe and beyond
Chair: Martina Brandt
Discussant: Gunhild O. Hagestad
Our symposium brings together leading European scholars in grandparent-research to shed light on grandparenthood within and across countries from multiple angles. We start with a description of the demographic patterns associated with grandparenthood in Europe and the US before turning to the links between different family domains, such as care responsibilities of grandparents with older parents and the impact of marital disruptions on grandparental engagement, with an emphasis on Northern Europe. Lastly, we will assess the effects of grandparental caregiving on cognition and social participation across different European contexts. The presentations will provide an overview of different demographic structures as well as some of their outcomes on the individual and macro level – and provide a spectrum of up-to-date grandparent research which will be discussed in detail by a renowned expert in this area.
S4.3.1 Trends in the prevalence of grandparent households in selected European
countries and the United States
Karen Glaser1, Rachel Stuchbury2, Debora Price3, Giorgio di Gessa4, Eloi Ribe1, Anthea Tinker1
1 King’s College London, UK, 2 University College London, UK, 3 University of Manchester, UK, 4 The London School of Economics and Political Science
Background: Research from the United States has shown significant increases in the prevalence of three-generation households and in households consisting solely of grandparents and grandchildren. Such shifts in household composition may reflect the activation of grandparents as a latent network of support in response to social and demographic changes such as rising partnership disruption. Since grandparent households in many industrialised countries are associated with socio-economic disadvantage, such kin activation may have a detrimental effect on the most vulnerable. However, to date little is known about European trends in grandparent households or whether these households are also associated with socio-economic disadvantage. Methods: Employing the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series - International and the Office for National Statistics' Longitudinal Study for England and Wales, we used multivariate techniques to investigate changes in prevalence over time in co-residence with a grandchild across Austria, England and Wales, France, Greece, Portugal, Romania and the United States. Results: Trends in grandparent households were not consistent across the European countries studied, indicating variations in the extended family’s response to societal change. Between 1980 and 2011, results show a decline in the percentage of grandparents aged 40 and over co-residing with their grandchildren in three-generation households in Austria, England and Wales, France, Greece and Portugal but not in Romania and the US. During the same time period only England and Wales, like the US, experienced a rise in skipped-generation households. Conclusions: Regardless of the trends three-generation and skipped-generation grandparent households in all the countries under study remained associated with socio-economic disadvantage.
S4.3.2 Caring for parents and grandchildren in Europe
Martina Brandt1, Katharina Herlofson2
1 TU Dortmund, Germany, 2 NOVA, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
Background: In ageing societies, it is not uncommon to enter grandparenthood with own parents still living. It is thus a pertinent question how the middle generation allocate help to older and younger family members. The few existing studies addressing the combination of care to ascending and descending generations show that helping one generation does not seem to take place at the expense of help to another, rather the contrary. Here, we focus on two key dimensions, gender and care regimes, and ask: Does the positive association between help to older and younger generations hold for both men and women, and does it apply to different types of care regimes? Methods: We employ data from The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and The Norwegian Life course, Ageing and Generation study (NorLAG). Together, the two studies include 14 countries representing four different types of care regimes. Logistic regressions are performed separately for men and women and the four regimes. Results: The conclusion from earlier research is confirmed. Adult children who look after grandchildren are more inclined to provide care to parents compared to those without grandchildren. This holds for both daughters and sons and for all care regimes. The association is weaker in the Southern European regime than in the others. Conclusions: The findings indicate that it might be more difficult to combine help to more than one generation in welfare states where care is regarded a family responsibility than in countries with more available formal care services.
S4.3.3 Marital disruption and grandparenthood among older Finns
Mirkka Danielsbacka, Antti O. Tanskanen
University of Turku, Finland
Background: It is well-known that divorce and remarriage influence family relations. However, few studies have explored grandparents’ investment following marital disruption. Here, we investigate whether the investments of divorced, remarried or widowed grandparents differ from those of never-divorced grandparents and whether the effect of marital status is different for grandfathers and grandmothers. Methods: Grandparental investment is measured by childcare, contact frequencies, practical help and financial support from grandparents to their offspring. The investigation is based on the Generational Transmissions in Finland 2012 survey, which includes 1,441 grandparents aged between 62 and 67 years. We use multilevel logistic and linear regression analysis. Results: We found that among married (never-divorced), divorced and remarried grandparents, the grandmothers invested significantly more than grandfathers. The only exception was that married (never divorced) grandfathers provided more practical help to children than grandmothers. Both divorce and remarriage were associated with reduced child care help and reduced contacts between grandfathers and their grandchildren. In addition, remarried and widowed grandfathers provided significantly less practical and financial help to their offspring compared to their never-divorced counterparts. Among grandmothers, remarriage was associated with reduced child care help and contact frequency, and divorce with reduced financial help when compared to never-divorced grandmothers. Finally, the timing of divorce had a very limited effect on grandparental investments. Conclusion: The analyses show that marital disruption tends to reduce the investment of grandfathers more than that of grandmothers.
S4.3.4 Grandparental childcare, social participation and cognitive functioning of older
Bruno Arpino1, Valeria Bordone2
1 Pompeu Fabra University, Spain, 2 University of Munich, Germany
Background: Previous studies have reported a positive association between older people’s involvement in grandparental childcare or social activities and their cognitive outcomes. Our contribution to this literature is twofold. First, we use methods that address possible selection issues and reverse causality. Second, we assess what is the optimal combination of grandparental childcare and social participation for maintaining cognitive functioning in later life. Methods: We apply instrumental variable and fixed effect lagged models to data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The survey includes information on grandparental childcare, several forms of social participation (volunteering, participation in: social clubs, educational courses, political groups) and multiple dimensions of cognitive functioning (numeracy, immediate and delayed recall, verbal fluency). Results: Preliminary results confirm that, for both men and women, provision of grandparental childcare and participation in social activities are associated with better cognitive functioning. However, the interaction between the two activities is not always statistically or substantially significant. Conclusions: The results of this study point to the importance of social engagement in order to limit the decline in cognitive functioning associated with ageing. Additionally, in line with the role conflict theoretical framework, they also hint to a possible counterbalancing effect due to an overload when trying to combine grandparental childcare and participation in other social activities.