Grandparents and Grandchildren –
The Skip Generation





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.

Note to readers
This release is based on a report available today in the winter edition of Canadian social trends. Data came from two sources - the 2001 Census and the 2001 General Social Survey (GSS).The 2001 Census expanded the definition of family to include children living with their grandparents in the absence of their parents.The GSS interviewed a representative sample of more than 24,000 Canadians aged 15 and older living in private households in the 10 provinces. About 6,400 grandparents were sampled in the GSS, representing 5.7 million grandparents in Canada.

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 an 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 information in the above article comes from Stats Canada.

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