Does Having a New Grandchild Make Grandparents Happier and Healthier in China? Evidence from Charls

Jiawei Wu , King's College London
Karen F. Glaser, King's College London
Mauricio Avendano, King's College London / Harvard University

Background: Having a grandchild has long been regarded as the reassurance of family continuity in the social context of China. It is believed to bring emotional gratifications and psychological benefits to grandparents. However, statistical evidence has been sparse to support this claim. Our objective is to explore the effects of having a new grandchild on life satisfaction, depressive symptoms and ADL difficulty among older adults in a large nationally representative sample in China. Method: This study drew data from the 2011 national baseline wave and subsequent two follow-up waves of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). The analytical sample size is 12,855, comprising 6,101 men and 6,754 women. Fixed effects models were chosen to address confounding caused by unobserved personal characteristics. Socio-demographic covariates were controlled for in estimating the health outcomes of having a new grandchild. Results: Compared with men, women who experienced having a new grandchild reported higher probability of ADL difficulty (ß = 0.03, SE 0.01). When we took coresidence and grandchild care into consideration, no significant association between having a new grandchild and health outcomes was found for both genders. Conclusion: Simply having a new grandchild puts women at higher probability of reporting ADL difficulty. For both genders, coresiding with the new born grandchild and/or provided care is not associated with life satisfaction, depressive symptoms and ADL difficulty. The claim that having a new grandchild might bring health benefits to grandparents in China is not supported by statistical evidence.

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 Presented in Session 52. Mental Health of Older People