Does Grandparental Care Pay off? The Effect of Childcare on Grandparents´ Cognitive Functioning

Valeria Bordone, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)

Extensive literature shows the positive effects grandparental childcare has on younger generations. However, little evidence exists on the effects of grandparental childcare on grandparents. In this paper, we explore to what extent grandparental childcare influences cognitive ageing, by considering four dimensions of cognitive functioning. In particular, we focus on grandmothers, as they are the most engaged. Descriptive evidence suggests that grandmothers looking after grandchildren with a daily frequency have lower cognitive scores than those counterparts involved less often. However, we show that such a negative effect of grandparental childcare results from background characteristics of grandparents. In order to address the endogeneity of grandparental childcare, we implement an instrumental variable approach. Our regression analyses do not show evidence that grandparental childcare has a negative effect on grandparents’ cognitive functioning. On the contrary, for one of the considered dimensions, verbal fluency, we find a substantial positive effect.

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Presented in Poster Session 7