Work history, economic resources, and women’s labour market withdrawal after the birth of the first grandchild

Francesca Zanasi*, Inge Sieben, W.J.G. Uunk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


Typically, grandmothers are actively involved in the lives of their grandchildren, most frequently as care providers. At the same time, these individuals become grandparents while still employed. These two roles—of active grandparent and worker—might conflict, since both demand time and energy. This study examines whether the birth of the first grandchild leads to labour market withdrawal for women, and whether there are differences between grandmothers according to their work history and household economic resources. We considered the work history of women both as a measure of work–family preferences and a source of opportunities and constraints to labour market behaviour later in life. Our analyses of data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) 2002–2017 using hybrid logistic models show that the probability of labour market withdrawal increases after the birth of the first grandchild. Women who had continuous working careers, or short employment interruptions, were more likely to withdraw from the labour market after the birth of the first grandchild than their counterparts with non-continuous careers, as well as women living in wealthy households. The explanation lies in the lower opportunity cost these women encounter in withdrawing from the labour market. Our findings relate to policies aimed at increasing retirement ages all over Europe, advocating that these measures could conflict with grandmothers’ involvement in their grandchildren’s lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Economic resources
  • English longitudinal study of ageing
  • Grandparenthood
  • Labour market withdrawal
  • Life course
  • Work history


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