Europeans spend much time with their grandchildren. And past 70, the grandfather takes the lead.
Norwegian sociologist Knud Knudsen sets great store by his grandchildren. In that respect, he is typical of the grandparents in Europe who are the subjects of his recent research.
"Europeans with grandchildren generally opt to spend a good deal of time with them," says 67-year-old Knudsen, who is professor of sociology at the University of Stavanger (UiS).
"And grandfathers appear to be more involved than before," he adds. In a new study, he found that grandmothers are clearly more involved with their grandchildren when a couple is younger.
However, this gender disparity gradually changes with the years. Among the oldest age groups, grandfathers usually show greater solicitude.
At the same time, he has found that involvement with grandchildren naturally enough declines for both genders with advancing years.
Active grandfather of four
Knudsen himself has four grandchildren aged between one and 11 one in Oslo and three in Stavanger and he is together with them as often as possible for both play and more serious matters.
He and wife Gro collect grandchildren every Tuesday both from nursery school and day care facilities before the youngsters start homework, sports, dinner and play.
They often devote the weekend to their extended family and babysitting. "It provides new insights and instructive challenges, and gives more meaning to life," says Knudsen.
More than 5000 grandparents
His study embraces about 5 500 grandparents aged 60-85 in 11 European countries Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Belgium.
Called the survey of health, ageing and retirement in Europe (Share), this empirical dataset ranks as one of the largest in the continent.
"We're likely to see more grandparents spending
|Contact: Knud Knudsen|
University of Stavanger