The Composition of Grandparents and Parents’ Child Care: Gender and Generational Patterns in Activity, Multitasking and Co-Presence

Lyn Craig, University of New South Wales
Bridget Jenkins, University of New South Wales

Parents have long called upon grandparents as auxiliary child carers, but despite the ubiquity and importance of grandparent care, little is known about what it actually consists of. Does grandmother and grandfather care differ from mother- and father-care? Is the composition of male care and female care similar at both life stages, or are gender differences narrower in later life? Using the nationally representative Australian Bureau of Statistics Time Use Survey we compare the relative composition of childcare on three dimensions: tasks performed (routine vs non-routine), the proportion multitasked, the proportion performed together with a spouse. Gender differences in the proportion of childcare that is spent in routine tasks, and that is done without a partner present, are significantly less for grandparents than for parents. The narrower gaps result from grandmothers spending less of their care time on these measures than mothers, not from grandfathers doing proportionately more than fathers.

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Presented in Session 12: Gender and Time Spent in Child Care