Cover of EconPol Working Paper 31

The Effect of Grandchildren on Grandparental Labour Supply: Evidence from Europe

Andreas Backhaus and Mikkel Barslund

In this working paper, Andreas Backhaus and Mikkel Barslund (Centre for European Policy Studies) find that women of later working age who become grandmothers are more likely to leave the labour market than women without grandchildren, according to new research from EconPol Europe. Male labour supply, however, does not significantly adjust in response to grandparenthood. The probability of women aged between 55 and 64 continuing to participate in the labour market can fall from an average of 45% to 15% after the arrival of grandchildren, according to the research. The negative effect of grandparenthood is particularly pronounced following the arrival of the first grandchild and for grandmothers who live close to their children.

Abstract

Grandparents at working-age spend a considerable amount of time taking care of their grandchildren. These time transfers might imply economic trade-offs regarding the participation in the labour market. Using an instrumental variable strategy and multiple waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we estimate the causal effect of grandparenthood on the labour supply of working-age grandparents in ten European countries. In our preferred specification, we find a large negative impact of grandparenthood on the labour supply of women aged 55 to 64. This effect is particularly pronounced following the arrival of the first grandchild and for grandmothers who live in close distance to their offspring. It further operates at the extensive margin of labour supply, resulting in grandmothers leaving the labour market entirely. By contrast, male labour supply does not significantly adjust in response to grandparenthood. Our results imply a relevant trade-off between labour supply and grandchild care for European women of later working age.

Citation

Andreas Backhaus and Mikkel Barslund: The Effect of Grandchildren on Grandparental Labour Supply: Evidence from Europe, EconPol Working Paper 31, October 2019.