Understanding grandparent–grandchild 'investment'

Apr 08, 2014 by Lily Yeang
Dr Coall says when a grandparent is involved in a grandchild’s life it appears to be beneficial especially for psychosocial and emotional development. Credit: S P Photography

Biological grandparents are more likely to invest in their grandchildren on a regular basis than non-biological grandparents, an Edith Cowan University (ECU) study has found.

The study, published in PLOS ONE, is the first to examine the impact of biological relatedness on Grandparental Investment (GPI) in contemporary westernised nations.

GPI, measured as the frequency of informal childcare given by , was found using Data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe in people over the age of 50.

Lead author and ECU School of Medical Sciences senior lecturer David Coall found around 50 per cent of grandparents in Europe invest in their grandchildren, with GPI strongest in grandparents who were directly related to their grandkids.

"For almost weekly childcare, being a biological grandparent was the strongest predictor of GPI," Dr Coall says.

"For the more intensive, almost daily GPI, it was the fourth strongest factor after filial [grandparent-parent] expectations, whether the grandparent has a partner, and if the [parent] was employed."

Dr Coall says non-biological grandparents were more likely to invest at lower levels (almost monthly or less often).

He says non-biological grandparents still invest, but their GPI is not as frequent, with several factors being associated with reasons for reduced investment.

"We found non-biological grandparents live further away, have more children and grandchildren and may feel a lower obligation to some parts of their family," he says.

Further studies are required to examine why, but the paper notes that non-biological grandparents still play a pivotal part in a child's upbringing.

"Evidence is mounting that participating in a caring relationship with a grandparent can be beneficial for the development of grandchildren," Dr Coall says.

"We felt it was crucial to establish what factors were associated with grandparents being involved in their grandchildren's lives.

"Studies from psychology, economics, sociology and evolutionary biology have examined this question, but this is the most extensive international study of GPI."

Dr Coall says it's essential that studies into grandparental and grandchild relationships are conducted, because of the positive influence grandparents can have on child development.

"We are not suggesting all grandparents must invest in their … but when a grandparent can be involved in a grandchild's life it does appear to be beneficial especially for psychosocial and emotional development."

Explore further: Less privileged kids shine at university, according to study

More information: The study is available online: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3885520/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The ties that bind: Grandparents and their grandchildren

May 13, 2011

Close your eyes for a moment, open your treasure trove of memories and take a step back in time to your childhood. Do you remember your grandfather gently scooping you up into his warm and comforting embrace? Or sitting by ...

More grandparents fill caregiver role

Sep 06, 2012

Grandparents, an increasingly important source of child care in the United States, vary greatly in the kind of care they provide, depending on their age, resources, and the needs of their children, research at the University ...

Grandma and grandpa are good for children

Jun 04, 2008

The first national survey about the relationships that adolescents have with their grandparents shows that grandparents who are involved in the upbringing of their grandchildren can contribute to a child’s ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

Dec 18, 2014

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

Dec 18, 2014

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

How to teach all students to think critically

Dec 18, 2014

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.