Becoming a First-Time Grandparent and Subjective Well-Being: A Fixed Effects Approach
Journal of Marriage and Family
© 2019 National Council on Family Relations Objective: In this study, the authors examined how individuals are affected by the change in status to grandparenthood for the first time. Background: Being a grandparent, especially an active and involved grandparent, is positively linked to the well-being of individuals with grandchildren; however, little is known about how becoming a grandparent affects well-being. Method: Longitudinal data pooled from 15 countries in Europe (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe; http://www.share-project.org) are used to analyze if becoming a grandparent is associated with three measures of subjective well-being. The authors use fixed effects models to account for unobserved heterogeneity. Results: Becoming a first-time grandparent is associated with fewer depressive symptoms among women, although there is no evidence for an effect on subjective life expectancy or life satisfaction. For men, there is no evidence for an impact on any outcome tested, although there is an association with increased subjective life expectancy conditional on employment status only if men were employed when transitioning to grandparenthood. The results provide no evidence that actively looking after the grandchild is important for either gender. Conclusion: These results suggest that, at least for women, it is the life transition itself that impacts on some aspects of well-being rather than active grandchild care. More research is needed to verify these findings in other contexts and for longer periods of time.