European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 225–235 | Cite as

What do we know about grandparents? Insights from current quantitative data and identification of future data needs

  • Karsten HankEmail author
  • Giulia Cavrini
  • Giorgio Di Gessa
  • Cecilia Tomassini
Original Investigation


Against the background of a ‘new wave’ of empirical studies investigating various aspects of grandparenthood across a broad range of regional contexts, this article aims to take stock of what has been achieved so far and which lessons we can learn from this for the future. Our focus is on the measurement of grandparenthood and grandparenting in quantitative social surveys and the implications this has for the substantive questions we can ask and the answers we can get out of such data. For several broader questions—who is a grandparent and when does this transition happen; what does it mean to be a grandparent; and what are the implications of grandparenthood for families?—we review previous questionnaire items from a variety of surveys as well as studies in which they were used. We identify relevant issues related to these questions which cannot be adequately addressed with currently available data, but should be considered in new or ongoing survey projects. The answers provided by recent studies as well as the many still open questions identified here indicate excellent prospects for scholarship on grandparents in the years to come.


Grandparenthood Grandparenting Quantitative data 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Free University of Bolzano/BozenBolzanoItaly
  3. 3.King’s College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.University of MoliseCampobassoItaly

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