More than 200,000 North Carolina grandparents live with their grandchildren, representing 3.6% of the population 30 and older, according to 2008-2012 American Community Survey data. Half of these grandparents are responsible for the care of their grandchildren, meaning that they are providing for most of their basic needs. Most of these grandparents have been responsible for the care of their grandchildren for years: 40% have been providing for their grandchildren for 5 or more years, and an additional 40% have been responsible for the care of their grandchildren for 1 to 4 years.
In total, 170,000 North Carolina children (7%) under age 18 live in grandparent-headed households. Forty-five percent of children living in grandparent-headed households are under 6 years old, 30% are between the ages of 6 and 11, and 25% are ages 12-17.
The vast majority of these children (76%) are in multigenerational households, living with both parents and grandparents. These living arrangements reflect a variety of potential scenarios, such as the housing crisis and broader economic recession and teen pregnancy. The remaining quarter of these children have no parents present, although these proportions vary widely across counties. In Perquimans County, for example, the ACS estimates that all grandchildren living with grandparents also have at least one parent present. At the other extreme is Hyde County, where 62% of grandchildren living with grandparents have no parents present.
The interactive graphic below provides detail on county differences in the proportion of children under 18 living with a grandparent householder. Selecting a county on the map compares the county’s distribution of grandparent responsibility and presence of a parent among grandchildren living with grandparents to the statewide distribution.
Note: Detailed data from the U.S. Census Bureau is limited to grandparent-headed households. According to AARP GrandFacts, in 2010, an additional 55,000 North Carolina children under 18 lived with their grandparents in households headed by other relatives. These are likely children whose grandparents are not primarily responsible for providing their care, such as children whose parents are in the “sandwich generation” and are raising children while caring for aging parents.