What Drives National Differences in Intensive Grandparental Childcare in Europe?

Giorgio Di Gessa, King's College London
Karen F. Glaser, King's College London
Debora J. Price, King's College London
Anthea Tinker, King's College London
Eloi Ribe Montserrat, King's College London

Grandparents play an important role in looking after grandchildren. The provision of intensive grandparent childcare varies considerably across Europe, even when socio-economic and demographic national distributions are accounted for. This paper investigates whether contextual-structural factors (such as formal childcare and labour market structures) influence the level of informal childcare support from older parents to their adult children, using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. Multilevel analyses suggest that grandparental childcare variations are driven by macro-level factors. Higher levels of intensive grandparental childcare were found in countries with generally low female labour market participation rates and low formal childcare provision, where mothers who are in paid work are more likely to rely on grandparental support on an almost daily basis. Encouraging older women to remain in the labour market might impact on mothers’ employment, particularly in Southern European countries where there is little formal childcare.

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Presented in Session 118: Older Populations in International and Cross-Cultural Perspective