Grandchild Care and Well-Being: Gender Differences in Mental Health Effects of Caregiving Grandparents.

TitleGrandchild Care and Well-Being: Gender Differences in Mental Health Effects of Caregiving Grandparents.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsNotter, IRocío
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology, Series B
ISSN Number1758-5368
Keywordsgender, Grandparenting, Mental Health, social engagement

OBJECTIVE: The literature on the gendered differences of mental health as a result of grandchild care has shown mixed results. Research on grandchild care further suggests that nonresidential grandchild care improves mental health outcomes, while residential grandchild care arrangements decrease mental health outcomes in grandparents. The moderating or buffering role of social engagement remains understudied in the grandchild care-mental health relationship. The present study examines mental health effect differences between caregiving grandmothers and grandfathers, and the moderating effects of social engagement.

METHOD: Using 2002-2012 data from the HRS (Health and Retirement Study), a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults aged 50 and over, I examine the mental health effects of grandchild care and the moderating effect of social engagement in fixed effects models.

RESULTS: Grandfathers experience particularly worsened mental health outcomes when providing grandchild care in a skipped-generation household. Both grandmothers and grandfathers experience mental health improvements from increased social engagement. Social engagement, particularly for grandmothers, serves as a buffer or produces role enhancement for grandmothers in skipped-generation care arrangements.

DISCUSSION: Nonresidential and residential grandchild care affect mental health outcomes differently for grandmothers and grandfathers. However, social engagement consistently serves as a buffer or mental health improvement for all grandparents. Findings further encourage the continued study of social engagement and gender differences in older adults more broadly.

Citation Key11856
PubMed ID34508596
PubMed Central IDPMC9255931