Race/Ethnic Differentials in the Health Consequences of Caring for Grandchildren for Grandparents

TitleRace/Ethnic Differentials in the Health Consequences of Caring for Grandchildren for Grandparents
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsChen, F, Mair, CA, Bao, L, Yang, YClaire
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
KeywordsAdult children, Demographics, Healthcare

Objectives. The phenomenon of grandparents caring for grandchildren is disproportionately observed among different racial/ethnic groups in the United States. This study examines the influence of childcare provision on older adults health trajectories in the United States with a particular focus on racial/ethnic differentials.Method. Analyzing nationally representative, longitudinal data on grandparents over the age of 50 from the Health and Retirement Study (1998 2010), we conduct growth curve analysis to examine the effect of living arrangements and caregiving intensity on older adults health trajectories, measured by changing Frailty Index (FI) in race/ethnic subsamples. We use propensity score weighting to address the issue of potential nonrandom selection of grandparents into grandchild care.Results. We find that some amount of caring for grandchildren is associated with a reduction of frailty for older adults, whereas coresidence with grandchildren results in health deterioration. For non-Hispanic black grandparents, living in a skipped generation household appears to be particularly detrimental to health. We also find that Hispanic grandparents fare better than non-Hispanic black grandparents despite a similar level of caregiving and rate of coresidence. Finally, financial and social resources assist in buffering some of the negative effects of coresidence on health (though this effect also differs by race/ethnicity).Discussion. Our findings suggest that the health consequences of grandchild care are mixed across different racial/ethnic groups and are further shaped by individual characteristics as well as perhaps cultural context.

Endnote Keywords

Caregiving/Grandparents/Health disparities/Race/ethnic differences/family Caregivers/transfers/socioeconomic Differences

Endnote ID


Citation Key8157
PubMed ID25481922
PubMed Central IDPMC4635642