The proposed study focuses on the impact of care giving for grandchildren on grandparents'health for different race/ethnic groups in the U.S. Although it is known that Black and Hispanic grandparents are more likely to co- reside with grandchildren and to provide routine care for grandchildren than their White counterparts, much less is known about whether varied levels of care giving have differential effects on their health. First, minority grandparents who are heavily involved with childcare tend to be disproportionately concentrated in the lower socioeconomic ladder and may have poorer health conditions initially, thus making it difficult to infer a causal linkage between care giving and health. Second, the socioeconomic disadvantages of Black and Hispanic minorities may also induce additional stress and exacerbate existing poor health conditions. Third, the presence of strong feministic traditions and the mobilization of social support network may act as a buffer for adverse socioeconomic conditions, in addition to the emotional reward generally associated with grand parenting. The proposed study uses data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative, longitudinal panel study of older adults in the United States. Using the cumulative advantage/disadvantage and cumulative inequality (CAD/CI) framework, the project should enhance our understanding of different mechanisms through which grandparents'care giving influences health trajectories. The focus on race/ethnic disparities is critically important given minority grandparents'higher level of childcare involvement, race/ethnic differences in sub-cultural norms, socioeconomic resources and social ties, and the rate of growth of the Hispanic population.

Public Health Relevance

This study will help identify how health trajectories of grandparents of different race/ethnic groups will differ by their experience of care giving for grandchildren. To the extent that the study can identify various mechanisms of how care giving may influence a range of health conditions, interventions can be better targeted to relevant populations, particularly the minority grandparents, who are disproportionately disadvantaged in their socioeconomic background.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Research Grants (R03)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
Program Officer
Bures, Regina M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Maryland College Park
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
College Park
United States
Zip Code
Chen, Feinian; Mair, Christine A; Bao, Luoman et al. (2015) Race/Ethnic Differentials in the Health Consequences of Caring for Grandchildren for Grandparents. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 70:793-803
Chen, Feinian; Liu, Hui; Vikram, Kriti et al. (2015) For Better or Worse: The Health Implications of Marriage Separation Due to Migration in Rural China. Demography 52:1321-43