With U.S. households headed by baby boomers commanding almost half of the nation’s total household income, this group is increasingly being asked to step in an raise grandchildren as young adults struggle in the poor economy reports the Washington Post.
Now making up 1 in 4 adults, grandparents are growing in numbers at twice the rate of the overall population, staying in the work force and sticking close to families, according to new census figures. The latest trend of grandparent involvement, reflected in census figures released Thursday, is now being driven also by the economy and the graying U.S. population, including the 78 million boomers born between 1946 and 1964 who began turning 65 this year.
“We help out in terms of running errands, babysitting, taking the grandkids to doctors’ appointments, and for back-to-school shopping,” said Doug Flockhart of Exeter, N.H., listing some of the activities that he and his wife, Eileen, do for their five kids and seven grandchildren. But that’s just the start.
They also pitch in with health care payments for family members due to insurance gaps, and their pace of activity has picked up substantially since their daughter, who lives three blocks away, gave birth to her first child this month. Flockhart, a retired architect, likes the family time even if he and his wife worry about their grandkids’ futures. Their oldest grandchild is 16.
“It’s not so much the day in and day out, it’s the big picture as to how these young kids will grow up and pay for a college education and buy a house,” he said. “The middle class is so much less well-off than it used to be. We’ve put aside some savings for them, but with seven grandchildren it can only go so far.”
These grandparents reject living in senior communities in favor of “aging in place” in their own homes, near family. In 2009, households ages 55 or older spent billions of dollars on infant food, clothes, toys, games, tuition and supplies for grandchildren, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.