The MetLife Report on:
New Insights for a New Generation of Grandparents
by Peter Francese
Today, the Norman Rockwell image persists of grandparents as aged, whitehaired
grandmothers and grandfathers — the ones for whom National
Grandparents Day was inaugurated in 1978. The reality is quite something else.
Back in 1980, when that image was closer to reality, there were fewer than 40
million mostly quite elderly grandparents in a young nation where half of the
population was under 30 years old.
Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
by 2010, we estimate that there were some 65 million grandparents in the
nation where almost half the population was over 40, and more than one in
every four adults was a grandparent. Rather than being old and frail, a majority
of grandparents today are working age Baby Boomers between 45 and 64 years
old. Three-quarters of the people in that age range are in the workforce and
most of them work full-time.
The numbers of grandparents are at record highs and still growing at more
than twice the overall population growth rate. There were an estimated 65
million grandmothers and grandfathers in 2010. By 2020, they are projected
to reach 80 million, at which time they will be nearly one-in-three adults.
• A majority of grandparents today are Baby Boomers ages 45 to 64 years old.
As a result, today’s grandparents are more likely to be college graduates and
fully employed than at any time in the past.
• About one in every ten households headed by someone who is a grandparent
has at least one grandchild living with them. Part of the reason for this is the
recession-driven high unemployment among their grandchildren’s parents.
• About one-in-five grandparents are African-American, Hispanic, or Asian
compared to two-in-five young adults, indicating that grandparents will
become more diverse in the future.
The increasing financial involvement of today’s record number of grandparents
in the lives of their adult children and grandchildren suggests that large numbers
of grandparents are making substantial commitments of their time and personal
resources to insure that this core value is maintained and their next generation
will in fact do better.
What this means is that future financial service providers will find that more of
their major transactions, whether they be loans, mortgages, or insurance, may
involve multiple generations. The grandparents may be only there to give advice
or they may be a party to the contract. But they are far more likely to be
engaged than at any time in the past.
The implications for American employers are threefold. First, most of today’s
younger workers know their uncertain financial situation all to well and may be
more interested in advice on managing their personal finances than at any time
in the past. But many of them will also be getting some of that advice from
parents and grandparents.
Second, more older employees and probably more senior managers, are likely to
be grandparents. Their attitudes toward employee benefits may tilt toward those
that help young families cope with the rising cost of education and childcare.
They may also want to change the definition of dependant-eligible benefits to
Third, as millions of active Baby Boomers turn 65 years old each year, more older
employees in the future will potentially have Medicare as their primary health
insurance. They may want some other insurance-related employee benefit
instead that would cover one or more of their grandchildren who is not covered
by any policy.
The full report can be found at http://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/2011/mmi-american-grandparents.pdf