Most grandparents babysit and provide financial support for grandkids as they try to save their children money and build stronger family connections, two new studies show.
A University of Chicago analysis of a decade of data based on interviews with 13,614 grandparents, ages 50 and older, finds that 61 percent of grandparents provided at least 50 hours a year of care for grandchildren at least one year between 1998 and 2008; 70 percent provided care for two years or more. The data are from a longitudinal survey collected every two years since 1992 by the University of Michigan. Findings are in the Journal of Family Issues.
Another survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,008 grandparents ages 45 and older, suggests similar findings. The online research was done in April for the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the nonprofit Generations United, an intergenerational policy group.
Among the findings: 59 percent have at least one grandchild within 50 miles; 39 percent have one more than 500 miles away; 62 percent have provided financial support to grandchildren in the past five years, averaging $8,289, primarily for investments and education; 74 percent babysit or provide care weekly.
Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, in Washington, D.C., says grandparents who provide care do so because "they want to, and because of the economy." "Grandparents are being asked to help financially and relieve the financial burden of child care, by taking care of their grandchildren," she says. "They have a tendency to be healthier and want to be involved in their grandchildren's lives. They're not as interested in moving away from their families. If anything, they would move to be closer to their grandchildren."