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Eleven percent of grandparents said they had a grandchild living with them. (Image: Thinkstock)

The number of grandparents in the U.S. has increased by 24% to 70 million since the turn of the century, and they spend an average of $2,562 a year — about $179 billion — on their grandchildren, AARP reported Tuesday.

“Today’s grandparents are an economic force that cannot be ignored,” AARP’s senior vice president of research Alison Bryant said in a statement. “They are living longer, working longer, shattering stereotypes and supporting their grandchildren in a variety of ways, including financially and culturally.”

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