The purpose of this study is to compare the incidence of custodial grandparenting in Central Appalachia to other areas in Appalachia and the rest of the U.S., to explore how recent economic changes have affected poverty rates of custodial grandparents in all of these areas, and to explore what influences the probability of custodial grandparenting. We hypothesize that the recent economic upheaval of the Great Recession has pressured many families to rely on grandparents to provide care for their grandchildren and that these trends are particularly evident in the Appalachian region due to longstanding historical trends and unique cultural factors. Three year summary data from the American Community Survey (ACS) was used to compare rates of grandparent caregiving along with poverty, children living in grandparent only households, and other indicators of poverty and economic distress both between regions and across three different time periods (2005-07, 2008-10, and 2011-13). We then developed at logistic regression model using the ACS individual level data (Public Use MicroData) for 2009-13 to estimate the probability of caregiving status among grandparents living with grandchildren in each Appalachian region compared to the entire United States. Grandparents living with grandchildren in Central Appalachia had more than double the odds of being the primary caregiver when compared to the rest of the U.S. when controlling for demographics, poverty, gender, race, age, and education. While grandparents can provide an important resource for these families, advocates and state level policy makers need to be aware of the potential downstream costs to children and older adults over time and consider how to better support these Appalachian grandfamilies.
Phillips, D. L.,
(2016). Intersections of Poverty, Geography, and Custodial Grandparent Caregiving in Appalachia. GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy, 3 (1).
Available at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/grandfamilies/vol3/iss1/3