The Compressed Grandparenthood in Japan: The Influence of the Change of Social Policy, Low Fertility Rate, and the Lack of Social Pathway of Long Grandparenting

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:42
Oral Presentation
Kiwamu ANDO, Nagoya City University, Japan
This study aims at revealing today’s compressed grandparenthood in Japan analysing both quantitative and qualitative data. In spite of the long grandparenthood, the change of Japanese welfare policy, its low fertility rate and the lack of social pathway of long grandparenthood have made it difficult for grandparents to enjoy the long-running relationships available in terms of demography. In other words, now the Japanese grandparents are consumed excessively as informal and inexpensive carers at their early stage of grandparent trajectory.

The quantitative data is a random sample collected in 2016 containing 906 respondents living in two metropolises. The qualitative one was obtained in 2015 and 2016, including 41 respondents residing in large and small cities. The multilevel analyses based on the quantitative data show that those grandparents caring for their grandchildren on a daily basis are more likely to refer to their fatigue and lower significance of grandparenthood, compared to those who are not “mother saver.” The finding based on the qualitative data is that even “mother saver” grandparents do not expect the close relationships with their grandchildren to last for a long time, although they devote themselves to the caring role sacrificing their occupational carriers, volunteering, community involvement, hobbies, etc.

The results were related to the embeddedness of today’s Japanese grandparents into the changes of social policy and demographics from mid-1970 to the present. It was also pointed out that the grandparents, facing the difficulty to project the image on the relationships with grown up grandchildren, concentrated themselves on the early phase of grandparenthood and relinquished their social resources which could be useful for the meaningful relationship with adult grandchildren.

Finally, it was suggested based on the qualitative data that the new communication form between grandparents and grandchildren using ICTs might make a breakthrough in the compressed grandparenthood problem.