American Sociological Association

Grandparenting and Mortality: How Does Race-Ethnicity Matter?

Little is known about whether and how intergenerational relationships influence older adult mortality. This study examines the association between caring for grandchildren (i.e., grandparenting) and mortality and how the link differs by race-ethnicity. Drawing from the Health and Retirement Study (1998–2014, N = 13,705), I found different racial-ethnic patterns in the effects of grandparenting on mortality risk. White grandparents who provide intensive noncoresident grandparenting (i.e., over 500 hours of babysitting per two years) and multigenerational household grandparenting have a lower risk of mortality compared to noncaregiving grandparents. In contrast, black grandparents have a higher mortality risk than their noncaregiving counterparts when providing intensive noncoresident, multigenerational household, and skipped-generation household (i.e., grandparent-headed family) grandparenting. Caregiving Hispanic grandparents are not significantly different from their noncaregiving counterparts in mortality risk. These findings suggest that important variations in social and cultural contexts for racial-ethnic groups shape the consequences of grandparenting for older adult mortality.


Seung-won Emily Choi





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