Nearly two-thirds of grandparents have financially supported their grandchildren in the past five years, a report released in September from the MetLife Mature Market Institute found. On average, grandparents contributed $8,289 over that time period to their grandchildren, and 15% have given more than $10,000.
While 43% of grandparents surveyed said they are helping to support their grandchildren because of the recession, 34% say that help is hurting their own financial health.
The most common type of support was simply handing over cash, the report, “Grandparents Investing in Grandchildren,” found. Eighty-two percent of grandparents give cash, and 62% give gifts. The study found 18% of grandparents give their grandchildren financial products.
For many grandparents, their support is going toward basic needs like clothing (43%); general support (33%), which MetLife says could include housing and food costs; and education (29%).
Grandparents also support their grandchildren through hands-on care. The study found 13% of grandparents provide regular care for their grandkids. Of those, almost a third said they baby-sit at least five days a week and 15% say they are raising their grandchildren. MetLife noted that grandparents under 65 are more likely to say they provide care, likely because younger grandparents have younger grandchildren who need more care.
While 20% of grandparents say they live in a multigenerational household, most consider themselves the head of the household. Just 10% say they are living in their adult children’s homes.
Most grandparents are optimistic about their grandchildren’s future. More than two-thirds say they believe their grandchildren will live at least as well as they have. That optimism is largely a result of good values instilled in their grandchildren and strong parental and family influence. While 28% said having a good education will contribute to their grandchildren’s future quality of life, just 13% said a secure financial base will have an effect.
Although the majority of grandparents are optimistic about their grandchildren’s futures, the study did drill down into what’s worrying grandparents who reported pessimism. Of the 33% who don’t think their grandkids will live as well as they have, 84% blame it on problems with the government or society at large: government involvement, poor economy, national debt, a country in decline, too many or too few entitlements, lack of freedom, socialism, bad housing market, lack of safety or high crime rate and social problems.
While pessimistic grandparents agree social problems will have a negative effect on their grandchildren’s future, most attribute this social decline to other people. Just 11% said personal and family issues will cause their grandchildren to have a negative future.