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
• 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
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
• GSS data showed that there were 5.7 million grandparents
• Each grandparent had on average 4.7 grandchildren.
• Only 2% of women and 1% of men aged 45 and under were
• 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
• 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
The information in the above article comes from Stats Canada.