Family and relationships

Grandparents looking after grandchildren

Grandparents Care

Grandparents play an important role in providing child care for their grandchildren. The figure shows that just under 50 per cent of all female grandparents aged under 80 and approximately one-third of all male grandparents aged under 80 provide care for their grandchildren on a regular (at least monthly) basis. There was a slight decline in the proportion of grandparents providing care between 2007 and 2015, which is possibly due to later retirement. It is worth noting that the percentages in the figure would be higher if we excluded grandparents who did not have any grandchildren young enough to require care.

In Wave 15, grandparents were asked the age of their youngest grandchild, allowing us to examine how care provided by grandparents depends on the ages of the grandchildren. The 2015 data show that nearly 60 per cent of female grandparents and over 40 per cent of male grandparents provide regular care for grandchildren when the youngest grandchild is aged under 6.

Stress cost of a new baby

baby in blanket

Research using the HILDA data has put a dollar figure of $85,000 on the time pressure and stress experienced by mothers in the baby's first year. "The $85,000 figure reflects the extra earnings the mother would have to receive to reduce her financial stress by as much as the birth increases her time stress."

Heilke Buddelmeyer, from the University of Melbourne, stated that "the cost of a baby goes well beyond nappies and baby clothes" and therefore he sought to quantify some of the hidden costs, in this case, the increase in feeling pressed for time.

In addition, the research found that women are three times more time stressed than men in the first year of a baby's life.

Fertility – behavior and intentions

The HILDA study asks men and women between the ages of 18 and 44 who intend to have children (or more children) what factors were important when making the decision to have a child. The following table shows the top five most important factors for men and women with and without children.