Ten percent of grandparents living with grandchildren, census report says

In 2012, 2.7 million grandparents in the U.S. were raising their grandchildren. 

November 19, 2014 |

Of the 65 million grandparents in the U.S. in 2012, 7 million, or 10%, lived with at least one grandchild, according to Coresident Grandparents and Their Grandchildren: 2012, a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage of children who lived with a grandparent in 2012 was also 10%, rising from 7% in 1992.

About 4.2 million households, or 3% of all households, contained both grandchildren under 18 and their grandparents in 2012. More than 60% of these households were maintained by a grandparent and about one in three had no parent present.

In 2012, 2.7 million grandparents in the U.S. were raising their grandchildren. About 39% of these grandparent caregivers have cared for their grandchildren for five years or more.

“Recent trends in increased life expectancy, single-parent families and female employment increase the potential for grandparents to play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren,” said Renee Ellis, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch. “Increases in grandparents living with grandchildren are one way that the grandparent role has changed.”

The report uses data from the 2010 Census, the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation to examine historical changes in coresidence of grandparents and characteristics of grandparents and grandchildren who live together. The report, for the first time, compares coresident grandparents with grandparents who do not live with their grandchildren.

Other findings:

  • Grandparents who lived with a grandchild in 2012 were younger, had lower levels of education and were more likely to be in poverty than those who did not live with a grandchild.

  • Two percent of grandparents who lived with a grandchild were age 30 to 39, while the highest percentage was for those age 50 to 59 (34 percent). Those age 80 and over made up only 4%.

  • Women comprised 64.2% of grandparents who lived with their grandchildren.

  • Forty-nine percent of children in grandparent-maintained households lived with both grandparents compared with only 19% of children in parent-maintained households.

  • Since 2007, about one-third of children who lived with a grandparent also had two parents present.

  • Percentages of children who were uninsured were not statistically different when looking at whether or not the child lived with a grandparent. However, those who did live with a grandparent were more likely to have public insurance.

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