Tuesday, December 9, 2003
Grandparents and grandchildren, 2001
For many grandparents, later life is a time for enjoying the benefits of retirement. But thousands are finding themselves in an unusual position - raising their children's children.
In 2001, a total of 56,700 grandparents, or 1% of all grandparents, were living with their grandchildren without either of the child's parents involved, according to a report based on census data that appears in Canadian social trends.
These households, which consist of grandparents, grandchildren and no middle generation, are sometimes referred to as "skip-generation households."
Two-thirds of the grandparents in these households were women, and just under one-half (46%) were retired.
Data from the 2001 Census showed that 56,800 children lived with these grandparents. Of these youngsters, just under one-half, or 25,200, were aged 14 or under. These children accounted for 0.4% of the total population in this age group, about the same proportion as in 1991.
Provincially, the proportion of children aged 14 and under in skip-generation households was highest in Saskatchewan. There, 1.2% of grandchildren in this age group lived alone with a grandparent, three times the national average. The highest proportion, 2.3%, was in Nunavut, more than five times the national average.
However, in Quebec, only 0.2% of grandchildren aged 14 or under lived alone with a grandparent, and in Ontario, only 0.3% did so.
Census data also showed that nearly two-thirds (65%) of grandparents in skip-generation households were financially responsible for the household.
Nearly half a million grandparents live in shared homes
The 56,700 grandparents who lived in skip generations in 2001 accounted for about 12% of the more than 474,400 grandparents who shared households with their grandchildren.
The census provided a breakdown of these shared households, based on various generations living in them.
A majority of grandparents, about 242,800, or 51%, lived in multi-generation households, that is, with their adult child, his or her spouse, and the grandchildren. This could include the so-called "sandwich" generation in which the middle generation, particularly women, care for both children and elderly parents.
One-third of the total, or about 158,200, lived in households in which the middle generation was a lone parent, most likely the mother. Lone mothers are more likely than mothers in two-parent families to be in need of support.
Only 16% of grandparents in multi-generational households where the middle generation was a couple were primary financial providers. But in cases where the middle generation was a lone parent, 50% of grandparents were financially responsible.
Profile of grandparents: Each has average of nearly five grandchildren
GSS data showed that there were 5.7 million grandparents in 2001. Each grandparent had on average 4.7 grandchildren.
Only 2% of women and 1% of men aged 45 and under were grandparents. In the age group 55 to 64, nearly two-thirds of women and just over one-half of men were grandparents.
However, about 80% of senior women aged 65 and older were grandmothers, while 74% of senior men were grandfathers.
More than one-half (53%) of all grandparents were retired, while 30% reported they were still in the labour force. About 11% stated their main activity as homemakers or childcare providers.
In 2001, over two-thirds (68%) of all grandparents were married, while 18% were widowed. An additional 10% were divorced or separated or had never been married, while 4% were living common-law.
The above article comes from Statistics Canada, The Daily, December 9, 2003, available at web site http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/031209/d031209b.htm