The Length and Characteristics of the Grandparent Phase of Life: Variation by Race/Ethnicity

Rachel Margolis, University of Western Ontario

Demographic changes impact the absolute and relative length of time that we spend in different family roles. In this paper, I examine variation in the length and characteristics of grandparenthood. First, I examine the timing and frequency of grandparenthood among older Americans and examine the sources of race/ethnic differences in why older Americans are not (yet) grandparents- childlessness, children are childless, or child/grandchild mortality. Second, I use the Sullivan method to chart the absolute and relative time spent in two states – grandchild-less and with grandchildren – by sex and race/ethnicity. Last, I examine whether there are race/ethnic differences in key characteristics of grandparenthood that may affect the amount or quality of interaction with grandchildren, such as disability status, labor force participation, and proximity to grandchildren. Preliminary results highlight large subgroup differences in the demography of grandparenthood. Implications for family relationships, care-giving, and evolutionary demography are discussed.

  See paper

Presented in Session 113: Grandparents and Demographic Change