Data sources, methods and definitions

Data sources

Data used in this paper are from the 2011 General Social Survey (GSS) and the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) and are based on a population aged 45 and over in private households. While most grandparents are seniors aged 65 and over, some individuals become grandparents at relatively younger ages. The 2011 GSS sample used in this study is based on nearly 11,700 respondents representing about 12.3 million Canadians living in the 10 provinces. Of this group, close to 7,700 respondents representing about 7 million Canadians were grandparents. The GSS data are used to provide an overview of all grandparents in Canada. GSS data were collected from February 2011 to November 2011 via telephone interviews. Respondents were selected using a random-digit-dialing sampling method.

The 2011 NHS data include the territories as well as the provinces for the population aged 45 and over. According to the NHS, there were 14.2 million people in this age group, of whom 584,350 were grandparents living with their grandchildren, referred to in this study as co-residing grandparents or grandparents in shared homes. The NHS does not collect information on all grandparents in Canada. Consequently, in order to calculate the share of co-residing grandparents, the denominator is taken as the total population aged 45 and over.

It is possible, however, to approximate co-residing grandparents as a proportion of all grandparents. About 8% of grandparents aged 45 and over in Canada live with their grandchildren, which is based on a numerator of 584,350 co-residing grandparents from NHS data and a denominator of close to 7 million grandparents from the GSS. When NHS numbers are adjusted to account for the fact that the GSS is not conducted in the Territories, the resulting number of co-residing grandparents is 581,300 (again representing 8% of all grandparents).

Since both the NHS and the GSS are based on the population in private households, they do not take the increasing proportion of seniors, particularly women, who reside in collective dwellings as they age into account.


Co-residing grandparents: Grandparents who live in the same home as at least one grandchild. Also referred to as grandparents in shared homes.

Multigenerational household: A household containing three or more generations of grandparents, parents and children. The middle generation may be comprised of two parents who are part of a couple, a lone parent, or a more complex situation such as both a couple and a lone parent.

Skip-generation household: A household containing one or more grandparents and grandchildren, and no parents.

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