Transformations in the role of grandparents across welfare states

Katharina Herlofson and Gunhild O. Hagestad

in Contemporary grandparenting

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9781847429681
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781447307624 | DOI:
Transformations in the role of grandparents across welfare states

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Most earlier work on contemporary grandparenthood has taken a micro-perspective, discussing variations of grandparent roles across different family contexts. The authors of this chapter move to a macro level and examine how demographic change and social policies have contributed to a transformation of grandparental role expectations and behaviour in Europe. The new demographic picture means that grandparents today have a new potential for being involved with children and grandchildren. Their role is, however, shaped by the welfare state context. In countries with extensive public childcare, the core of the grandparent role is to be available for couples with young children when extra help and support is needed (grandparents as ‘family savers’). In societies with little public child care support, grandparents often have to look after grandchildren on a daily basis, in order to enable mothers’ participation in the labour market (grandparents as ‘mother savers’). Data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), as well as comparable Norwegian data, are used to illustrate contrasts.

Keywords: Grandparent role; Grandchild care; Welfare state structure; Substitution - complementarity; Europe; Demographic change; Gender; Child savers; Mother savers; Family savers

Chapter.  8272 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Marriage and the Family

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