NC in Focus: Grandparents Living with their Grandchildren

There are currently over 210,000 grandparents living with their own grandchildren (under age 18) in North Carolina, according to the 2012-16 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates. This is approximately 3.5% of the adult population 30 years and older. Of those living with their grandchildren, slightly less than half of grandparents (46%) were primary caregivers, meaning they had financial responsibility for the basic needs of grandchildren in their household. For many individuals, this is a long-term role. Forty-three percent of grandparents with caregiver responsibilities in NC had been providing support for five years or more, and over 80% had been responsible for their grandchild or grandchildren for at least one year.

There is a nearly even split among grandparents living with their grandchildren by employment status: 49.6% are currently working and 50.4% are not in the labor force. A majority of grandparents currently working also had caregiver responsibilities (54%), while just 39% of those out of the labor force were financially responsible for their grandchildren.

Overall, there are over 175,000 grandchildren currently living with their grandparents; 58% of them were being taken care of by their grandparents. In the majority of cases (62%), there was a parent present in the household, as well.

Across counties, the percentage of grandparents living with their grandchildren ranges from under 2% to over 7%. Counties with the largest shares of grandparents living with their grandchildren tended to cluster in the Sandhills and northeastern regions of the state. The top five counties were:

  • Anson County: 7.2%
  • Scotland County: 6.9%
  • Robeson County: 6.4%
  • Halifax County: 6.1%
  • Perquimans County: 5.9%

Meanwhile, many of the counties with the smallest shares of grandparents living with their grandchildren were located in the western and north-central portions of the state. These included:

  • Mitchell County: 1.8%
  • Orange County: 1.9%
  • Polk County: 2%
  • Yancey County: 2.1%
  • Chatham County: 2.2%

In 46 counties, half or more of the grandparents living with their grandchildren acted as caregivers. Nearly everywhere, the majority of them were grandmothers, except in three counties:

  • Pender County: 54% of caregivers were grandfathers
  • Davie County: 52%
  • Camden County: 51%

Additionally, in nearly three-fourths of counties, grandparents who lived with their grandchildren and were in the labor force were also providing financial support.

For a deeper dive, explore this interactive county map below.
Note: Some percentages may not sum to 100 due to rounding errors.

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