Race and Ethnic Differences in Grandchild Care and Financial Transfers with Grandfamilies: An Intersectional Resource Approach
Grandparents often form the first line of defense in support of their families, allocating valued resources when childcare services and economic assistance are needed. A growing literature has documented the importance of grandparents for the well-being of their adult children and grandchildren (hereafter called grandfamilies), ranging from heroic forms of custodial care for grandchildren whose parents are unable or incapable of engaging in effective parenting, to intermittent childcare that allows parents, mostly mothers, to work in the labor force. Economic support is another strategy by which grandparents elevate the well-being of their grandfamilies by providing financial benefits to adult children that trickle down to also benefit grandchildren. Thus, time and money are the currencies by which grandparents contribute to, as well as benefit from, their grandfamilies. This chapter examines time/money tradeoffs in intergenerational grandparent support based on the ethnic and racial identification of grandparents, with particular focus on Black and Hispanic families and their language acculturation. We test the propositions that grandchild care is more interchangeable with providing financial support and more exchangeable with received financial support among ethnic minorities and less acculturated Hispanics than among non-Hispanic Whites. In this introduction, we first review the extant literature on the contributions of grandparents to their grandfamilies, discuss several theoretical frameworks within which such intergenerational contributions can be understood, and finally discuss the role of race, ethnicity, and immigrant acculturation in structuring intergenerational transfers by grandparents. There are several ways that this chapter differs from much of the literature on grandparent care providers. First, it
does not focus on full-time custodial grandparents nor does it focus on grand - parents living in skipped-generation households. While we include custodial grandparents in our analytic sample, we note that only 1% of our national sample of grandparents reported that they were raising a grandchild. Thus, we throw a wide net in capturing the broad cross-section of grandparents who provide at least some care for their grandchild. Second, this chapter takes relationships between grandparents and their adult children with their own families as the primary units of analysis. This allows us to focus on individual relationship dynamics and take into account supply and demand factors by which grandparents divide their care among the families of their adult children.