Income and educational differences in grandparental childcare: Evidence from English grandmothers and grandfathers

Francesca Zanasi*, Inge Sieben

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
107 Downloads (Pure)


Grandparents are actively involved in grandchildren's lives, but there is little research concerning socio-economic differences in the content of the relationship. This study explores the socio-economic gradient in childcare provided by grandparents, touching on the intensity of care, the activities performed with grandchildren and the motives driving this involvement, by grandparents’ gender. We explore two dimensions of socio-economic status, education and family income, pertaining to different dimensions of grandparents’ and grandchildren's relationship: child development versus parental childcare needs. Using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA 2016–2017, 2018–2019), logistic regression models show that intensive care is more common for grandfathers in the lowest income tercile. A high income decreases involvement in physical care activities (i.e. preparing meals); instead, the involvement is driven by motives to help children financially. Higher education is a good predictor of support with homework, driven by motives to ‘help grandchildren develop as people’. Even though grandfathers show an involvement in grandchildren's upbringing, highly-educated grandmothers remain the most inclined to offer support. Overall, the study suggests that grandparents’ involvement in grandchildren's lives could be among the mechanisms structuring the intergenerational transmission of inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalCommunity, Work & Family
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023


  • AGE
  • ELSA
  • TIME
  • WORK
  • childcare
  • educational gradient
  • grandparents


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