The number of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren is increasing

The share of children who are cared for by their grandparents is increasing again in the United States. According to Robin Lumsdaine, Professor of Applied Econometrics at Erasmus School of Economics and aluma Stephanie Vermeer, senior consultant at Roland Berger, little about a grandmother’s work status, income or pension influences whether she’ll end up caring for her grandchildren.

The analysis of Lumsdaine and Vermeer, a long-running Health and Retirement Study in the journal Demography shows that care decisions are sometimes driven by the needs of grandparents rather than their circumstances. The study found that it are not necessarily retired grandmothers who become caregivers. However, the study shows that when becoming a caregiver, grandmothers are 9.6 percent more likely to retire. On the other hand, 10.5 percent of retired caregivers would return to the workforce within two years, while still raising their grandchildren and another 13 percent would stop caregiving entirely and return to work during that time. Overall, the study shows that the birth of a new grandchild increases the chances that a grandmother will provide care by nearly 70 percent.


This time, the increase in the number of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren is caused by the opioid crisis. Many addicted parents are not able to take care for there children themselves anymore and, as a consequence, a large and rising share of grandparents are taking care of their grandkids. The burden is largely shifting to low-income white families and tends to be sharpest in rural, mostly white states, which also ranked in the top three in substance-abuse death rates.The limited data shows a large and rising share of grandparents in those communities are also taking care of grandkids. Meanwhile, grandparent caregiving of black children has declined as the share of black children living in poverty has fallen.