1 in 10 Kids Lives with Grandparent(s)

September 10, 2010

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One child in 10 in the US lives with a grandparent or grandparents, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

2.9M Kids Live with Grandparent
Pew analysis indicates the share of US children living with a grandparent/grandparents increased slowly and steadily during the past decade before rising sharply from 2007 to 2008, the first year of the Great Recession. There are about 2.9 million US children living with a grandparent as of 2008, compared to 2.5 million in 2000. That figure jumped 6% between 2007 and 2008.


Many Grandparents Primarily Give Care
About four in 10 (41%) of those children who live with a grandparent (or grandparents) are also being raised primarily by that grandparent, according to the Census data. Almost half (49%) of children being raised by grandparents also live with a single parent. For 43% of these children, there is no parent in the household. About 8% have both parents in the household, in addition to the caregiver grandparent.


The number of grandparents serving as primary caregivers to their grandchildren increased 8%, from 2.4 million in 2000 to 2.6 million in 2008. Three percent of that increase occurred from 2000 to 2007, and 5% occurred from 2007 to 2008.

Grandparent Caregivers Disproportionately Female, Minority
Among grandparents who serve as primary caregivers for grandchildren, there are notable differences by gender and race. Sixty-two percent are female.


In addition, more than half of grandparent primary caregivers (53%) are white, while 24% are African American, 18% are Hispanic and 3% are Asians. While grandparents who serve as primary caregivers for their grandchildren are disproportionately black and Hispanic, the increase in grandparent primary caregiving across the decade has been much more pronounced among whites. From 2000 to 2008, there was a 19% increase in the number of white grandparents caring for their grandkids.

There has been a smaller, but still notable increase in Hispanic grandparents serving as primary caregivers since 2000, which may be linked to the increasing size of the older Hispanic population in the U.S. By contrast, the number of blacks serving as grandparents declined by 12%.

Grandparents Have Limited Financial Resources
For the most part, grandparent caregivers have very limited financial resources. Nearly one in five (18%) are living below the poverty line, while 47% have household incomes that fall between one- and three-times the poverty line.

From 2000 to 2008, grandparents with incomes between one and three times the poverty level have shown the largest increase (12%) in caregiving for their grandchildren. However, Pew analysis indicates much of the increase in grandparent caregiving since the onset of the recession has occurred among grandparents who have incomes that are at least three times the poverty level.

Multi-Generational Households Return
The multi-generational family household has been returning in the US since 1980 and at an accelerated pace during the current recession, according to earlier research from the Pew Research Center.

In 2008, an estimated 49 million Americans, or 16% of the population, lived in a family household that contained at least two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation. In 1980, this figure was just 28 million, or 12% of the population. The last time this high a percentage of the US population lived in a multi-generational family household was in the late 1950s. By 1960, the share had dropped to 15%.

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