Caring for grandchildren is increasingly becoming a part of the retirement years. About 2.9 million children are currently being raised primarily by their grandparents, up from 2.5 million in 2000, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.
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Much of the increase in grandparent care giving has occurred since the onset of the recession. A 5 percent spike in children cared for mainly by grandparents was seen between 2007 and 2008 alone. About one in ten U.S. children now live with a grandparent.
Most grandparent primary caregivers are under age 60 (64 percent) and women (62 percent). And this child care arrangement is often long term. Over half of grandparent primary caregivers have been responsible for at least one grandchild for three years or more.
Even more grandparents provide childcare part time. Over a third (39 percent) of grandparents age 65 and older have helped their adult children with childcare in the past 12 months, according to a 2009 Pew Research survey. Younger grandparents were especially likely to attend to grandchildren with half of those in their 60s and early 70s providing babysitting services compared to 30 percent of retirees between 75 and 84 and 19 percent of seniors age 85 and older. Interestingly, more grandfathers (57 percent) than grandmothers (47 percent) between ages 65 and 74 say they help out with the grandchildren.