Grandfathers As 'family Savers': Class and the Nordic Welfare State
The Nordic countries are characterised by mothers' high labour market participation rates. Therefore our interviewees explained their active grandfather role in terms of pressures set by working life: the caring and assistance they provided was thus not only directed towards grandchildren but also towards their own adult children. The class-based grandfathering practices appeared to be systematic in our sample. Among working-class men these practices revolved around raising grandchildren in collaboration with the middle generation. For middle-class men, the grandfathering practices were based on their purpose to promote their own children's careers by taking care of grandchildren.
Our study shows that the Nordic welfare state is not flexible enough to meet the needs of many middle-class families whose work demands are set by global enterprises. Day care services cover only normal office hours, and therefore middle generations working in global businesses need help from grandparents. The notion from Anglo-American research, which points to grandparents' important role in rendering possible low-waged women's paid work, does not fully apply to Nordic welfare states. Rather it could be claimed that it is the welfare state which facilitates Finnish working-class women's paid labour through heavily subsidised childcare whereas grandparents' support is most needed for middle-class families.