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Grandparents providing childcare in Italy

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Research on the choices of childcare arrangements in Italy shows the fundamental role of grandparents in providing informal childcare. Therefore, it is important to understand how grandparents provide different types of childcare, especially in terms of differences in their socio-economic, demographic and physical status, jointly with the characteristics of their grandchildren. Grandparents aged 50 and over with at least one non-co-resident grandchild aged 13 years or less were selected from the 2009 Italian household survey. Multilevel multinomial logistic regression models for grandmothers and grandfathers were used to identify the determinants of the probability of providing childcare intensively, occasionally or during school holidays rather than never. The probability of a grandparent providing intensive childcare is significantly reduced by being: male, unmarried, in bad health and with inadequate economic resources. Nevertheless, when analysing the probability of providing childcare occasionally or during holidays, the individual characteristics of grandparents and grandchildren are less significant compared to intensive childcare, meaning that grandparents provide non-intensive care regardless of their individual characteristics, and this is particularly true for grandmothers. Results confirm the fundamental importance of grandparents in providing informal childcare in Italy, and they offer useful information to understand the individual characteristics associated with different types of grandparental childcare.

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  1. According to the ISTAT data warehouse, in 2009 the female employment rate was 56.5% in the north, 52% in central Italy and 30.6% in southern Italy.

  2. Maternal leave is allowed for both self-employed and salaried women (for 5 months). During this period, women earn 80% of their usual salary. See

  3. Salaried parents and certain categories of self-employed parents can request a further optional period of parental leave which can be taken by the mother and/or the father for up to 6 months. During this parental leave, they earn 30% of their usual salary. See


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Correspondence to Cecilia Tomassini.

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Responsible editors: Karen Glaser and Karsten Hank (guest editors) and Marja J. Aartsen (editor).

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Zamberletti, J., Cavrini, G. & Tomassini, C. Grandparents providing childcare in Italy. Eur J Ageing 15, 265–275 (2018).

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