Ethnicity and grandparental child care in the United Kingdom

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

April 15, 2020


Caring for one's grandchildren has become a more common experience for individuals partly as a result of a longer overlap between the lives of grandparents and their grandchildren. Existing research shows that around 50 per cent of grandparents engage in some grandparental child care in most European countries, however, this proportion is higher among older people with a migrant background, partly due to greater economic necessity among migrant families. Research has also highlighted ethnic differences in parents’ child-care selection, even after controlling for their socio-economic status. Building on these strands of work, this paper investigates the differences in the use of (grandparental) child care among parents from different Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups in the United Kingdom, using data from Understanding Society. The results show that parents from Other White, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and African communities are less likely to use child care than White British parents, while the opposite is true for Caribbean parents. However, among parents using child care, individuals from the Other White, Caribbean and African groups are less likely than the White British majority to be using grandparental child care as a supplement to other child-care types, or on its own. Ethnic differentials in the use of child care per se and grandparental child care in particular, have significant policy implications, and may mask other kinds of ethnic differences.

Published in

Ageing and Society

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 40 , p.713 -734






Open Access

© Cambridge University Press 2018

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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