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What Drives National Differences in Intensive Grandparental Childcare in Europe?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2015


King's Authors


Objectives. Grandparents play an important role in looking after grandchildren, although intensive grandparental childcare varies considerably across Europe. Few studies have explicitly investigated the extent to which such cross-national variations are associated with national level differences in individual demographic and socio-economic distributions along with contextual-structural and cultural factors (e.g., variations in female labor force participation, childcare provision, and cultural attitudes).

Methods. We used multilevel models to examine associations between intensive grandparental childcare and contextual-structural and cultural factors, after controlling for grandparent, parent, and child characteristics using nationally representative data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe.

Results. Even controlling for cross-national differences in demographic and socio-economic distributions, contextual-structural factors play an important role in explaining grandparental childcare variations in Europe. In particular, higher levels of intensive grandparental childcare are found in countries with low labor force participation among younger and older women, and low formal childcare provision, where mothers in paid work largely rely on grandparental support on an almost daily basis.

Discussion. Encouraging older women to remain in paid work is likely to have an impact on grandchild care which in turn may affect mothers’ employment, particularly in Southern European countries where there is little formal childcare.

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