An international study of the role of grandparents in family life

Karen Glaser, King's College London, and Rachel Stuchbury, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

[Project number 30140]

Grandparents often play an important role in supporting families, but in Europe their contribution is barely acknowledged in policy or in law. By comparing different European countries, we can investigate what types of family policies help to support the family including the extended family, and in what circumstances. To do this, we will ask two questions: (1) How does the role of grandparenting within the context of family life vary across Europe? and (2) How do different policy environments (focusing on family policy) across Europe help to shape these roles?

Data sources for the project will include the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE); the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA); and samples of Census data for selected counries in Europe, at intervals from 1970. The aim of analysing the Census data is to ascertain levels of grandparent coresidence with grandchildren, trends in such coresidence, proportions of such households where the intervening generation is absent, and social characteristics associated with such households. It is proposed to use LS data to examine these questions for England and Wales.