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Grandparents Today

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Modern Grandparents

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Most grandparents are quite adept with technology that can connect them with grandchildren.

Grandparents today tend to be tech savvy.

Photo © Gallo (Pty) Ltd. / Getty

Statistics about grandparents today are hard to come by, so much that marketers eager to sell to them refer to "The Elusive American Grandparent." It's an ever-changing group, with new members being added daily, and, inevitably, others dying daily. The demographics of the grandparent group are broad, including 40-year-olds and centenarians, and embracing all ethnicities and economic classes. It's enough to give a demographer fits.

For ordinary people, who don't want to sell to grandparents but just want to know about them, the best source of information is the Grandparent Report published by AARP. The most recent version of the report is 2002, so it's a bit outdated already, considering the rapid expansion of the grandparent group. The other problem with the AARP report is that it is based on surveys of AARP members, who are probably not precisely representative of all grandparents. The younger demographic, those below 45, were not represented in the survey at all. Given these deficiencies, however, the AARP report can give us a broad outline of American grandparents today that won't be far off the mark. Here are some of the basics.

  • About one-third of all adults are grandparents.
  • The average age of becoming a grandparent is around 47.
  • The average age of grandparents is around 64.
  • The average grandparent has six grandchildren.
  • About 77% of grandparents are married.
  • About half are still working.
  • A slight majority, 54%, have at least some college education.
  • About 6% of grandparents have a grandchild living in their home.
  • Parents are not present in around 43% of those homes, a phenomenon known as a skip-generation family.
  • About 15 % provide regular child care for grandchildren in their homes.
  • More than half of grandparents help with grandchildren's educational expenses.
  • A little less than half of grandparents help with grandchildren's living expenses.
  • A quarter of grandparents help pay for medical or dental care for their grandchildren.
  • More than half of all grandparents believe they play a very important role in their grandchildren’s lives.

You may also be interested in 10 Surprising Facts About Grandparents Today.

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