Volume 37 - Article 52 | Pages 1695–1706 Editor's Choice Author has provided data and code for replicating results

The magnitude and timing of grandparental coresidence during childhood in the United States

By Mariana Amorim, Rachel Dunifon, Natasha Pilkauskas

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Date received:06 Jul 2017
Date published:05 Dec 2017
Word count:2507
Keywords:family structure, grandfamilies, grandparents, life table, multigenerational households, three-generation families, United States
Additional files:readme.37-52 (text file, 1 kB)
 demographic-research.37-52 (zip file, 113 MB)


Background: The likelihood that a US child will live with a grandparent has increased over time. In 2015, nearly 12% of children lived with a grandparent. However, the likelihood that a child will ever live with a grandparent is not known.

Objective: We calculate the cumulative and age-specific probabilities of coresidence with grandparents during childhood. We stratify our analyses by types of grandparent-grandchild living arrangements (grandfamilies and three-generation households) and by race and ethnicity.

Methods: We use two data sets – the pooled 2010–2015 American Community Surveys (ACS) and the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY–97) – and produce estimates using life tables techniques.

Results: Results indicate that nearly 30% of US children ever coreside with grandparents. Both three-generation and grandfamily living arrangements are more prevalent among racial and ethnic minority groups, with three-generation coresidence particularly common among Asian children. Black children are nearly two times as likely to ever live in a grandfamily as compared to Hispanic and white children, respectively. Children are much more likely to experience grandparental coresidence during their first year of life than in any other year.

Conclusions: This paper suggests that the magnitude of grandparental coresidence is greater than previously known, particularly in early childhood.

Contribution: This is the first study to calculate age-specific and cumulative probabilities of coresidence with grandparents during the whole childhood. Doing so allows us to better craft public policies and guide new research on family complexity.

Author's Affiliation

Mariana Amorim - Cornell University, United States of America [Email]
Rachel Dunifon - Cornell University, United States of America [Email]
Natasha Pilkauskas - University of Michigan, United States of America [Email]

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