Surprising Facts About Grandparents

We reveal how today's grandparents are defying stereotypes.

By From the Editors

Fact: Today, there are 70 million grandparents in the nation.

Grandparents represent one-third of the population with 1.7 million new grandparents added to the ranks every year.

Grandparents lead 37% of all U.S. households in this country — that's 44 million households nationwide. And that number is increasing at twice the average annual rate of U.S. households overall — with the number to hit 50 million by 2015.

Fact: Grandparents love being grandparents.

  • 72% think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life
  • 63% say they can do a better job caring for grandchildren than they did with their own
  • 68% think being a grandparent brings them closer to their adult children
  • 90% enjoy talking about their grandkids to just about everyone

Fact: they are younger than ever before.

43% became grandparents in their fifties, 37% in their forties, with the average age of grandparents in this country at 48.

By 2010, more than 50% of the grandparent population will be baby boomers — by 2015, it will increase to nearly 60%.

Fact: Grandparents are active.

  • 43% exercise or play sports
  • 28% volunteer on a regular basis
  • 18% dance

Fact: they are intellectually curious.

  • 71% say reading is one of their favorite activities
  • 86% read a newspaper in print or online

Fact: Grandparents are wired.

  • 75% are online
  • 70% use search engines to find information
  • 63% shop online
  • 30% instant message
  • 56% share photos online
  • 46% bank online
  • 45% are on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo! Groups

Fact: Grandparents are in the workforce.

  • 60% still have a full-time or part-time job
  • 23% have started their own business

Fact: they are becoming more modern.

  • 33% have been married more than once
  • 38% report having sex at least twice a week
  • 10% have a tattoo
  • 15% have demonstrated for a cause
  • 17% have attended a rally
  • 7% have used recreational drugs
  • 6% have started a blog
  • 3% have run a marathon
  • 2% have gone skydiving

Fact: Grandparents have money.

  • They control 75% of the wealth in this country.
  • They have the highest average net worth of any other age group ($254,000).
  • By 2010, they will earn the highest average income.
  • They spend $2 trillion every year on consumer goods and services.
  • 55% no longer carry a mortgage

Fact: they are generous with money and time.

  • They make 45% of the nation’s cash contributions to nonprofit organizations.
  • They account for 42% of all consumer spending on gifts.
  • 15% have volunteered at a shelter

Fact: they support their adult children and grandchildren financially.

  • They spend $52 billion every year on their grandkids alone.
  • They spend $32 billion on education-related costs.
  • 62% have provided financial support to their adult children and grandchildren in the last 12 months:
    • 23% on daycare
    • 40% on housing (mortgage or rent)
    • 21% on education
    • 70% on cash for day-to-day expenses
    • 24% on health care

Fact: Grandparents just want to have fun.

  • They spend $100 billion each year on entertainment.
  • They spend $77 billion each year on travel.

Fact: they like to spend time with their grandkids.

  • 60% live close to their grandchildren
  • 46% wish they could live even closer
  • 70% see the kids at least once a week
  • 66% travel with their grandkids
  • 81% have their grandkids for part or all of their summer vacation
  • 55% play video games with their grandchildren

Fact: Grandparents take care of their grandkids.

  • 72% take care of their grandchildren on a regular basis
  • 13% are primary caregivers
  • 92% have changed their grandchild's diaper
  • 64% accompany their adult children or grandchildren to the doctor
  • 86% bake cookies for their family

Fact: Many Grandparents live under the same roof as their grandkids.

6.2 million — or 5.3% of all U.S. households — are now multigenerational — up from 5 million in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey.

Fact: 66% of grandparents have never celebrated Grandparents Day.


Sources: internal survey, 2103; Metlife survey "Grandparents Investing in Grandchildren"; Pew Research Center report


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