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Do Grandma And Grandpa Matter? Uncovering the importance of the elderly for the socio-economic wellbeing of descendants

a PSC Research Project

Investigator:   Fabian T. Pfeffer

Population ageing has led to a larger generational overlap between the elderly and their descendants:
Today’s elderly are likely to be alive for a significant portion of their grandchildren’s lives. At the same time,
thanks to declining fertility rates, the number of grandchildren has decreased. At the backdrop of this
increased availability of grandparents for fewer grandchildren, this pilot project studies the importance of the
elderly population for the socio-economic wellbeing of younger populations, namely grandchildren. The aims
of this project can also be read as a response to a recent presidential address to the Population Association
of America (Mare 2011), which contained a call for considering more seriously the role of grandparents.
Early research on whether and how grandparents matter for the socio-economic wellbeing of their
grandchildren (Pfeffer forthcoming) has revealed the difficulty in empirically establishing direct impacts of the
elderly on their grandchildren that are not mediated by parents. This pilot project applies a novel approach to
the potential impact of grandparents by studying correlations in socio-economic wellbeing among cousins
over and above correlations among siblings (the latter being frequently used to establish two-generational
effects).

Funding Period: 07/01/2013 to 06/30/2014

Country of Focus: USA

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