The Causal Effect of Grandparental Overlap on Grandchildren’s Cognitive Outcomes

Jingying He , University of Wisconsin-Madison
Felix Elwert, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Peter Fallesen, Rockwool Foundation

Despite recent interest in multigenerational persistence of social inequality, there exists little evidence on whether and how grandparents directly affect grandchildren’s outcomes. Recent work hypothesizes that more time with grandparents benefits grandchildren, but has not provided causal identification of grandparent effects. In this study, we define, identify, and estimate a new category of comprehensive multigenerational effects of grandparents on grandchildren’s cognitive development, which we label grandparent overlap effects. Using a novel identification strategy and two new heterogeneous fixed effects estimators, we obtain four causal estimands of grandparent overlap effects on grandchildren. Unlike previous studies that focus on specific grandparental characteristics, our approach is comprehensive and allows us to identify total effects of prolonged overlap, the effects of specific grandparental characteristics, and interaction effects between prolonged overlap and characteristics. Using administrative population data from Denmark, we present first results of grandparental overlap effects on grandchildren’s cognitive development.

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 Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality