Volume 37 - Article 29 | Pages 917–928  

Who becomes a grandparent – and when? Educational differences in the chances and timing of grandparenthood

By Jan Skopek, Thomas Leopold


Background: Despite recent advances, the demographic understanding of grandparenthood remains limited.

Objective: Our study examines educational differences in the transition to grandparenthood. Comparing East and West Germany, we analyze educational differences in a) the chance of becoming a grandparent, and b) the timing of grandparenthood for both men and women.

Methods: We used fertility data across three family generations (German Ageing Survey, N = 2,434 men and women born 1933‒1948) and methods of survival time analysis to study educational gradients in the transition to grandparenthood.

Results: We found a strong educational gradient in the chances of grandparenthood among West German women: Lower-educated women’s chances of becoming a grandmother were similar to higher-educated women’s chances of becoming a mother.

Conclusions: Our findings have implications for research on multi-generational social mobility and on the consequences of grandparenthood.

Contribution: Our study is the first to analyze how the transition to grandparenthood is socially stratified.

Author's Affiliation

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