MPIDR Working Paper

Are the grandparents alright? The health consequences of grandparental childcare provision

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2022-023, 43 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (October 2022)
Revised February 2023
Open Access


This paper examines the causal effect of childcare provision on grandparents’ health in the US. We propose the sex ratio among older adults’ children as a novel instrument for grandparental childcare provision. Our instrument is rooted in the demographic literature on grandparenthood and exploits that parents of daughters transition to grandparenthood earlier and invest more in their grandchildren than parents of sons. We estimate 2SLS regressions using data from the Health and Retirement Study. The results suggest that childcare provision is not beneficial for grandparents’ health and may even be detrimental for physical functioning and subjective health.

Keywords: America, child care, health
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.