Gender and the division of labor in grandparent couples
Title: Gender and the division of labor in grandparent couples
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2013/13
Grandmothers provide far more childcare assistance than do grandfathers. This gender gap in grandparenting is well-documented, but not well-understood. The present study investigated whether, and to what extent, this gap was explained by a grandparent couple’s division of labor into market and domestic work. We analyzed panel data from two waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, comprising respondents from 11 countries. Linear regression models yielded three main findings. First, the trade-off between childcare and market work within grandparent couples was relatively weak, operating roughly on a one-for-eight basis. Second, transitions to retirement substantially reduced the gender gap in grandparenting: if a single-earning grandfather retired, his share of a couple’s total grandparenting hours increased by more than 30 percent. Third, controlling for couples’ division of market work, the gender gap in grandparenting was smallest in the egalitarian north and largest in the traditional south of Europe, corresponding to a geographical gradient in the societal framing of gender roles. The results direct attention to the employment-family nexus in later life and highlight the importance of understanding grandparenting as a life course phenomenon, performed by the grandparent couple as a unit of interacting providers.
Subject: Gender; Grandparenting; Division of labor; Older couples; Cross-national comparison; Linear regression; Fixed-effects regression
Type of Access: openAccess; openAccess