Does grandparenthood have an impact on health or well-being?

Whether grandparenting is associated with improved health or well-being among older adults is a salient question in present-day aging societies.

Systematic review of Danielsbacka et al. compiles studies that consider the health or well-being outcomes of grandparenting, concerning:

  • Custodial grandparent families, where grandparents are raising grandchildren without parental presence.
  • Three-generation households, where grandparents are living with adult children and grandchildren.
  • Non-coresiding grandparents, who are involved in the lives of their grandchildren.

Review was based on literature searches conducted in September 2019 via Web of Science, PubMed, PsycINFO, and Ebsco. We screened 3868 abstracts across four databases, and by following the PRISMA guidelines, we identified 92 relevant articles (117 studies) that were published between 1978 and 2019.

In almost 70 % of cases, custodial grandparenting was associated with decreased health or well-being of grandparents. The few studies considering the health or well-being of grandparents living in three-generation households provided mixed findings (39% positive; 39% negative). Finally, in 69% of cases, involvement of non-coresiding grandparents was associated with improved grandparental outcomes; however, there was only limited support for the prediction that involved grandparenting being causally associated with grandparental health or well-being.

Despite this, after different robustness checks (counting all nonsignificant results, taking into account the representativeness of the data and causal methodology), the main finding remains the same: the most negative results are found among custodial grandparents and three-generation households and most positive results among non-coresiding grandparents.

Read more

Danielsbacka, Mirkka, Lenka Křenková, and Antti O. Tanskanen. 2022. ”Grandparenting, health, and well-being: A systematic literature review.” European Journal of Ageing.