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Grandparents and grandchildren: care and support in Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam

  • JOHN KNODEL (a1) (a2) and MINH DUC NGUYEN (a3)

Recent surveys in Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam reveal that substantial proportions of persons aged 60 and older co-reside with grandchildren and commonly provide grandparental care. Usually the grandchildren's parents are also present. Situations in which the grandchildren's parents are absent are considerably less frequent. Parents are commonly the main source of the grandchildren's financial support even if absent. Most grandparents that provide care do not consider it a serious burden even when the grandchild's parents are absent. Moreover, grandparental care is not always one-directional as grandchildren can also be of help to grandparents. These features of grandchild care reflect a regional cultural context that views acceptance of reciprocal intergenerational obligations as normal and in which co-residence of older persons and adult children is still common. Differences in economic development and past fertility trends account for much of the observed differences in grandparental care among the three countries by affecting grandchildren availability and migration of adult children. In addition, economic development and demographic trends will continue to shape grandparental care in the coming decades. Despite the lack of attention to development and demographic context in previous studies, these aspects of the changing societal context deserve a prominent place within conceptual frameworks guiding comparative research on grandparenting.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: John Knodel, Population Studies Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106, USA E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
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