The Health Impact of Grandchild Care on Grandparents

Dandan Zhao
Yuanfei Li, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)

This study explores the health implications of grandparental child care in China. Using data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS, 2011 and 2013), it examines the effect of caregiving intensity and transitions on grandparents’ health and the relevance of gender and multiple roles. Results of lagged dependent variable models show general health benefits of grandparenting, but intensive caregiving is detrimental. Moreover, transition in caregiving matters: while gradual change is beneficial, dramatic change or stagnation often suggests otherwise. The relationship between caregiver and other social roles is deeply gendered: for grandfathers, it is contradictory and more social roles apart from being caregiver will undermine their health; for grandmothers, increase in other roles is at best neutral to their health. In general, the health effect of grandparenting is intricately conditioned by individual as well as cultural characteristics.

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 Presented in Session 6. Health & Mortality & Aging