Healthy Grandparenthood: How Long Is It, and How Has It Changed?

Healthy grandparenthood represents the period of overlap during which grandparents and grandchildren can build relationships, and grandparents can make intergenerational transfers to younger kin. The health of grandparents has important implications for upward and downward intergenerational transfers within kinship networks in aging societies. Although the length of grandparenthood is determined by fertility and mortality patterns, the amount of time spent as a healthy grandparent is also affected by morbidity. In this study, we estimate the length of healthy grandparenthood for the first time. Using U.S. and Canadian data, we examine changes in the length of healthy grandparenthood during years when grandparenthood was postponed, health improved, and mortality declined. We also examine variation in healthy grandparenthood by education and race/ethnicity within the United States. Our findings show that the period of healthy grandparenthood is becoming longer because of improvements in health and mortality, which more than offset delays in grandparenthood. Important variation exists within the United States by race/ethnicity and education, which has important implications for family relationships and transfers. Read more.

 

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