This Family Profile is an update of:
FP-14-14 and FP-18-03
Family Profile No. 01, 2023
Author: Krista K. Westrick-Payne
In 2021, approximately 63.5 million adults age 50 and older were grandparents, according to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The SIPP is a nationally representative household-based survey and is designed to provide comprehensive family and social information on individuals and families. Because the SIPP gathers information on all individuals who lived in a surveyed household, and directly asks respondents if they are a grandparent, it is one of the few surveys that identifies non-resident grandparents. In this profile, we identify the prevalence of grandparenthood among adults aged 50 and older and examine their demographic characteristics including race/ ethnicity, educational attainment, and current relationship status. This profile is an update of Stykes, Manning, & Brown, 2014 and Wu, 2018. It is also the first in our series on grandparents in the U.S.
The share of older adults who report having a grandchild has declined in recent years from 58% of those aged 50 and older in 2014 to 53% in 2021.
Figure 1. Trend in Grandparenthood in the U.S., 2014, 2018, and 2021
Race/ Ethnicity and Grandparenthood
Among adults aged 50 and older, a greater percentage of Black older adults were grandparents (56%) than those of other racial/ ethnic backgrounds in 2021.
With only slightly smaller shares, 54% of Hispanic older adults and 53% of White respondents aged 50 and older were also grandparents.
Those of Asian ethnicity had the smallest share reporting to be a grandparent—only about two-fifths said they had a grandchild.
Figure 2. Grandparenthood by Race/ Ethnicity, 2021
While the number of grandparents has increased from 62 million
in 2018 to 63.5 million in 2021, the share has dropped from 57% to 53%
of those aged 50 and older.
Educational Attainment and Grandparenthood
The prevalence of grandparenthood decreased as educational attainment increased.
Among those aged 50 or older in 2021 without a high school diploma/ GED, two-thirds were grandparents.
Sixty-one percent of those with a high school diploma and 54% of those with some college were grandparents in 2021.
Being a grandparent was least common among older adults who had at least a bachelor’s degree (42%).
Figure 3. Grandparenthood by Educational Attainment, 2021
Relationship Status and Grandparenthood
Being a grandparent was most common among widowed adults, at 74%. This is not unexpected because the widowed are more often older.
Similar shares of married and divorced/ separated adults were grandparents (57% and 54%, respectively).
Slightly less than half (45%) of cohabiting adults aged 50 and older were grandparents.
About one in five (18%) of never married older adults reported being a grandparent.
Figure 4. Grandparenthood by Relationship Status, 2021
This project is supported with assistance from Bowling Green State University. From 2007 to 2013, support was also provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of any agency of the state or federal government.