Transition to Retirement Increases the Amount of Time Grandparents Spend Caring for Their Grandchildren

According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, grandparents spend more time with their grandchildren after retirement than when they are still in the labour market.  In addition, the effect of retirement was greater for grandfathers than for grandmothers. The association was similar across Europe.

Antti O. Tanskanen, Mirkka Danielsbacka, Hans Hämäläinen, and Aïda Solé Auró studied how retirement affects childcare assistance provided by grandparents. Previous research on the topic has almost entirely focused on comparisons between grandparents who are at work and grandparents who have already retired. Instead, a recent study focused on how retirement affects grandchildren care. The study utilized panel survey data, in which the same individuals have been interviewed both before and after retirement.

– We compared the changes that occur within-person, in other words, the changes in caring for grandchildren with retirement, Professor Antti O. Tanskanen of the University of Turku, says.

The results showed that retirement increases the amount of time grandparents spend caring for their grandchildren. The result was similar to both paternal and maternal side grandparents. In addition, the results showed that the effect of retirement is greater for grandfathers than for grandmothers.

– This is probably due to that grandfathers may still spend more time on work in this age group than grandmothers, Tanskanen states.  The links were similar across all regions included in the study.

In societal discussion, retirees may often be perceived as a passive part of society. However, the findings of the study show that individuals continue to live an active life often even after retirement.

–  From the point of view of active ageing, this should also be studied in respect of other things, e.g, helping neighbours and friends or volunteering, Tanskanen evaluates.

The study utilized an extensive Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe panel survey data, which included respondents from 15 European countries. The sample of the study consisted of 50–75-year-old respondents in these countries between 2004–2015.

Tanskanen is the director of the consortium and Danielsbacka is the leader of the working package on active ageing in the NetResilience consortium funded by the Strategic Research Council.

The research article