April 8, 2019 Herb 0Comment
Grandparents with Grandchildren Photo Caption: U.S. Census Bureau

Today, the Washington, DC-based AARP released its Grandparents Today National Survey, taking a close look the latest trends impacting the growing number of American’s who have become grandparents.  Since 2001 the number of grandparents has grown a whopping 24 percent from 56 million to 70 million.

The online survey of 2,654 grandparents ages 38+ was conducted between August 20 and September 4, 2018.

According to AARP’s research study, released on April 8, grandparents spend an average of $2,562 annually on their grandchildren, pumping $179 billion dollars per year into the economy. The youngest grandparent is about 38 years old, with 50 being the average age of becoming a first-time grandparent.

The researchers found that grandparents have, on average, four to five grandchildren, down from six to seven in 2011. The number of grandparents in the workforce has increased in the past seven years, with 40 percent of grandparents currently employed up from 24 percent in 2011, says the study’s findings.  By 2030, more than 70 percent of the U.S. 8-year-olds will have a living great-grandparent, say the researchers.

The AARP findings indicate that over half of the grandparents surveyed say they consider themselves to be “a source of wisdom and a moral compass to their grandchildren when it comes to education, morals and values.”  A majority say that they view their parenting style to be superior to today’s parents.  Over half agree on the discipline of spanking in comparison to only 4 percent of today’s parents.

“Today’s grandparents are an economic force that cannot be ignored,” said Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research, AARP, in a statement with the release of the 40-page report, “2018 Grandparents Today National Survey.”

“They are living longer, working longer, shattering stereotypes and supporting their grandchildren in a variety of ways, including financially and culturally. Nearly all grandparents are providing some sort of financial support, helping to ease the costs of raising kids,” says Bryant.

Key Findings

Researchers found that grandparents enjoy the positive aspects of grandparenting such as supporting dreams and sharing roots, history and culture, and experiences with their grandchildren.

But there is a downsize to being a grandparent, too.  Thirteen percent of the grandparents responding to the survey struggle with the financial expectations of being a grandparent, including the cost of traveling to see their grandchildren. Seven percent of grandparent’s respondents say that they have taken on debt to help their grandchildren pay for college and one in four of those grandparents have cosigned private student loans for their grandchildren and/or incurred credit card debt that has not yet been paid back in full.

Technology and Distance

 Eleven percent of the survey respondents say they have a grandchild living with them, consistent with 2011 results. But, over half of the grandparents responding to AARP’s study live over 200 miles away from at least one of their grandchildren and about 29 percent live over 50 miles from their closest grandchild (up from 19 percent in 2011).  Forty four percent of the respondents say they have become technologically savvy, in order to keep in touch with their grandchildren.

The AARP survey found that two in three grandparents (24 percent) say they like the idea of video chatting with grandchildren, and 47 percent like the idea of texting to connect.  However, only a quarter of the respondents say they are using the technology regularly to connect.

For more information, please contact Brittne Nelson Kakulla at bkakulla@aarp.org.  For a copy of the AARP Grandparent Study, go to https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/life-leisure/2019/aarp-grandparenting-study.doi.10.26419-2Fres.00289.001.pdf.

 

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