Volume 27 - Article 4 | Pages 85–120

Regional family cultures and child care by grandparents in Europe

By Maaike Jappens, Jan Van Bavel

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:05 Apr 2011
Date published:13 Jul 2012
Word count:9332
Keywords:childcare, Europe, family, grandparents, intergenerational support
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection “Intergenerational family ties in Europe: Multiple linkages between individuals, families and social contexts” at http://www.demographic-research.org/special/11/


Background: Child care is widely considered a key issue in confronting demographic change in Europe today, given its centrality in the labour market participation of parents, and of mothers in particular. There are considerable international differences in child care practices throughout Europe, and earlier comparative research has indicated that structural factors do not suffice to explain them.

Objective: We investigate whether or not, next to structural differences, cultural factors also play a role in European international variations in child care practices, and more specifically the use of grandparental child care.

Methods: Using the second wave of the European Social Survey, this paper scores subnational regions of 23 European countries on different dimensions of family norms and practices. We construct regional indicators and use them in a multilevel analysis of the use of grandparents as the main source of child care by European mothers.

Results: Results show that European mothers' reliance on grandparental child care is influenced by individual characteristics and the supply of formal child care, but also by the normative climate in the region they live in. Irrespective of the attitudes individually held, we find that mothers in more conservative regions are more inclined to use grandparents as the main source of child care instead of formal alternatives.

Conclusions: European patterns of child care use are not only subject to structural factors as the supply of formal care provisions for children. Preferences and attitudes prevalent in the regions in which young parents live form an important part of the picture too.

Author's Affiliation

Maaike Jappens - Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Belgium [Email]
Jan Van Bavel - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Gender differences and similarities in the educational gradient in fertility: The role of earnings potential and gender composition in study disciplines
Volume 39 - Article 13

» Stepfather or biological father? Education-specific pathways of postdivorce fatherhood
Volume 37 - Article 51

» Fertility among descendants of immigrants in Belgium: The role of the partner
Volume 36 - Article 60

» The mid-twentieth century Baby Boom and the changing educational gradient in Belgian cohort fertility
Volume 30 - Article 33

» Estimating the contribution of mothers of foreign origin to total fertility: The recent recovery of period fertility in the Belgian region of Flanders
Volume 30 - Article 12

» Social mobility and demographic behaviour: Long term perspectives
Volume 26 - Article 8

» Family size and intergenerational social mobility during the fertility transition: Evidence of resource dilution from the city of Antwerp in nineteenth century Belgium
Volume 24 - Article 14

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Attitudinal and behavioural indices of the second demographic transition: Evidence from the last three decades in Europe
Volume 44 - Article 46    | Keywords: Europe, family

» Towards a new understanding of cohabitation: Insights from focus group research across Europe and Australia
Volume 31 - Article 34    | Keywords: Europe, family

» The impact of grandparental investment on mothers’ fertility intentions in four European countries
Volume 31 - Article 1    | Keywords: childcare, grandparents

» Grandparenting and mothers’ labour force participation: A comparative analysis using the Generations and Gender Survey
Volume 27 - Article 3    | Keywords: childcare, grandparents

» Household composition across the new Europe: Where do the new Member States fit in?
Volume 25 - Article 14    | Keywords: Europe, family