The impact of the feminist movement, by birth cohort, on the likelihood of becoming a custodial grandmother
Silla, Kimberly Lynn Savannah
MetadataShow full item record
Caregiving has been a topic of interest among researchers in the United States for over 40 years, however little attention has been given to custodial grandmothers. A custodial grandmother is defined as a grandmother who maintains full responsibility of her co-resident grandchildren, whom are younger than 18 years of age (Williams 2011). Custodial grandmothers are a diverse group of women (Falk and Falk 2002) that find themselves raising their grandchildren because their adult children are unwilling or unable (Kornhaber 1996; Poe 1992; Hayslip and Goldberg-Glenn 2000; Garner and Mercer 2001; Falk and Falk 2002; Smyth 2003; Okagbue-Reaves 2005; Dolbin-MacNab 2006; Bunch and Eastman 2007; Bullock 2007; Moore and Miller 2007; Dunne and Kettler 2008; Longoria 2009; Williams 2011; Backhouse and Graham 2012). Additionally, increases in longevity make grandmothers more available for childrearing (Falk and Falk 2002; Cooney and Shin An 2006; Moore and Miller 2007; Conway et al. 2011; Williams 2011). The trend by which grandmothers are raising their grandchildren is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the United States (Garner and Mercer 2001 & Fitzpatrick and Reeve 2003). This study, therefore, examines the likelihood of becoming a custodial grandmother across three birth cohorts. These cohorts represent times before, during, and after the Feminist Movement; thereby inferences may be made regarding the effect of the Feminist Movement on the likelihood of becoming a custodial grandmother. Also unique to this study is the inclusion of co-residing grandmothers. Similar to custodial grandmothers, co-residing grandmothers share residencies with their grandchildren but, unlike custodial grandmothers, they do not have full responsibility of said grandchildren. By including co-residing grandmothers it provides for a deeper level of analysis, as many of these women share characteristics with custodial grandmothers. Within the context of the structural-functionalism and feminist family theories, nine hypotheses are empirically tested using secondary data from the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS). A nationally representative sample of 396,079 women is included in the study. Of these women, 16,235 are co-residing grandmothers and 6,862 are custodial grandmothers. From the data analysis, it was found that cohort differences exist regarding the likelihood of becoming both a co-residing grandmother and a custodial grandmother. These differences suggest that each birth cohort experienced the Feminist Movement differently, and these differences explain the variation in the likelihood of becoming co-residing grandmothers and custodial grandmothers. For the women with health problems, the likelihood of becoming a co-residing grandmother or a custodial grandmother decreased for those in Cohort C. However, women in Cohorts A and B were likely to become co-residing grandmothers and custodial grandmothers despite health problems. Being employed increased the likelihood of becoming both co-residing grandmothers and custodial grandmothers for all three birth cohorts, while income was shown to have no effect. The likelihood of becoming a co-residing grandmother increased among the homeowners in Cohorts A and B, but decreased among Cohort C. However, owning a home decreased the likelihood of becoming a custodial grandmother for Cohorts A and C, yet increased the likelihood for Cohort B. In all three cohorts, those with higher educational attainment were less likely to become co-residing grandmothers or custodial grandmothers. In the likelihood of becoming a co-residing grandmother, marriage was found to decrease the likelihood for all three birth cohorts. However, marriage increased the likelihood of becoming a custodial grandmother for Cohorts B and C, and decreased the likelihood for Cohort A. From Cohort A, those who lived in the South had an increased likelihood of becoming a co-residing grandmother and a custodial grandmother. By contrast, those in Cohort B were less likely to become a co-residing grandmother or a custodial grandmother. Within Cohort C, those living in the South were more likely to become co-residing grandmothers if living in the South but less likely to become custodial grandmothers. Hispanic women, from all three birth cohorts, were more likely to become co-residing grandmothers and less likely to become custodial grandmothers. Finally, having a traditionally female occupation increased the likelihood of becoming a co-residing grandmother in Cohort B, while decreasing the likelihood among Cohorts A and C. On the other hand, the likelihood of becoming a custodial grandmother increased for those with a traditionally female occupation in Cohorts A and B, but decreased for those in Cohort C.