October 25, 2016
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Minority Grandparents Raising Kids More

 WASHINGTON - One child in 10 in the United States lives with a grandparent, a share that increased slowly and steadily over the past decade before rising sharply from 2007 to 2008, the first year of the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

About four-in-ten (41%) of those children who live with a grandparent (or grandparents) are also being raised primarily by that grandparent,1 according to the census data.

This figure -- 2.9 million children2-- rose slowly throughout the decade and it, too, spiked from 2007 to 2008. In that single year, there was a 6% increase.

The phenomenon of grandparents serving as primary caregivers is more common among blacks3and Hispanics than among whites,4 but the sharpest rise since the recession began has been among whites.

The number of white grandparents primarily responsible for their grandchildren rose by 9% from 2007 to 2008, compared with an increase of just 2% among black grandparents and no change among Hispanic grandparents.

Almost half (49%) of children being raised by grandparents also live with a single parent. For about four-in-ten (43%) of these children, there is no parent in the household. About 8% have both parents in the household, in addition to the caregiver grandparent.

Whether or not they live with and raise their grandchildren, being a grandparent is central to the lives of most older Americans. According to a 2009 Pew Research Center survey, 80% of those ages 65 and older have grandchildren, as do 51% of those ages 50-64.5 The survey finds that grandparents place a premium on time spent with their grandchildren.

Just as the number of children being cared for by their grandparents has increased from 2000 to 2008, the corresponding number of grandparents serving as primary caregivers to their grandchildren increased 8%, from 2.4 million in 2000 to 2.6 million in 2008.

Three percent of that increase occurred from 2000 to 2007, and 5% occurred from 2007 to 2008.

Among grandparents who serve as primary caregivers for grandchildren, there are notable differences by race, ethnicity and income. More than half of grandparent primary caregivers (53%) are white, while 24% are African American, 18% are Hispanic and 3% are Asians. In comparison, in the population ages 50 and older, 78% are white, 10% are black, 8% are Hispanic and 4% are Asian.

While grandparents who serve as primary caregivers for their grandchildren are disproportionately black and Hispanic, the increase in grandparent primary caregiving across the decade has been much more pronounced among whites. From 2000 to 2008, there was a 19% increase in the number of white grandparents caring for their grandkids.

There has been a smaller, but still notable increase in Hispanic grandparents serving as primary caregivers since 2000, which may be linked to the increasing size of the older Hispanic population in the U.S. By contrast, the number of blacks serving as grandparents declined by 12%.6

For the most part, grandparent caregivers have very limited financial resources. Nearly one-in-five (18%) are living below the poverty line,7 while 47% have household incomes that fall between one- and three-times the poverty line. In comparison, among the population ages 50 and older, 8% are below the poverty line, and 32% are living on an income that is between one- and three-times the poverty rate.

From 2000 to 2008, grandparents with incomes between one- and three-times the poverty level have shown the largest increase (12%) in caregiving for their grandchildren. However, much of the increase in grandparent caregiving since the onset of the recession has occurred among grandparents who have incomes that are at least three times the poverty level.

Overall grandparent primary caregivers are relatively young -- more than two-thirds (67%) are younger than age 60, with 13% younger than age 45. This likely reflects the fact that younger grandparents are still physically able to take on the needs of grandchildren.

Some 62% of grandparent caregivers are female, and 38% are men. Two-thirds of grandparent caregivers are married, while 34% are not.

The plurality of grandparents who care for their grandchildren have been doing so for quite a long time. More than half (54%) report that they have been the primary caregiver to at least one grandchild for three years or more, and 23% have been the primary caregiver to a grandchild for between one and two years.

Read full report HERE

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