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Publication Detail
Is grandparental childcare socio-economically patterned? Evidence from the English longitudinal study of ageing
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Di Gessa G, Glaser K, Zaninotto P
  • Publisher:
    Springer Science and Business Media LLC
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    European Journal of Ageing
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Notes:
    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Grandparents play a vital role in providing childcare to families. Qualitative research and evidence from parents raise concerns that it is grandparents who are socio-economically disadvantaged who provide grandchild care more regularly, perform more intensive tasks, and care out of financial necessity. However, no European studies have investigated these issues at population level. This study is based on grandparents aged 50+ who looked after grandchildren. Data are from wave 8 of the nationally representative English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (2016/2017). We exploit newly collected information on frequency of grandchild care, activities, and reasons for care. Using multinomial regressions, we first examined the extent to which grandparents’ socio-economic characteristics (wealth and education) are associated with frequency of grandchild care. Second, using logistic regressions, we investigated whether wealth and education are associated with activities and reasons for grandchild care. Overall, grandparents from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds were more likely to provide more regular childcare. Similarly, grandparents in the lowest wealth quartile were more involved in hands-on activities (cooking, taking/collecting grandchildren to/from school), whereas highly educated grandparents were more likely to help grandchildren with homework. Finally, better-off grandparents were more likely to look after grandchildren to help parents and provide emotional support and less likely to report difficulty in refusing to provide care. Our findings show that grandparental childcare varies by socio-economic status with more intensive childcare activities falling disproportionately on those with fewer resources, and this may act to exacerbate existing socio-economic inequalities in later life.
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