Having a grandparent who can help with childcare raises mothers’ participation in the workforce by 26%, according to a new study.
The study by the University of Birmingham, published in the Journal of Social Policy, found that grandparents were the first named source of after school and weekend care for 36% of school entry year children for lone parents and 32% for partnered mothers. It was found that grandparents are providing care for mothers with all levels of educational attainment.
Grandparent care raised participation of mothers with degree level qualifications by 20%. It also made a big difference to mothers without qualifications who were less likely to be able to get a job, raising their lower participation by about 40%, while for women with a low level of qualifications (NVQ1) it raised their participation by 25%.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham examined secondary data of more than 14,000 mums from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), a nationally representative study of babies born in the UK over a 12-month period, from the year 2000.
The study also found that in the UK many grandparents live close to their grandchildren, with around 40% of mothers located within 15 minutes of their parents.
Dr Shireen Kanji, University of Birmingham said: ‘The contribution of unpaid work, often performed by women, is often unrecognised. Grandparents are having a large causal effect on mothers’ participation in paid work in the UK, but grandparents themselves are under pressure to extend their paid working lives as a result of recent changes to the state pension age.’