Co-resident grandparents and children’s early cognitive development

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Pooja Vadehra (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Danielle Crosby

Abstract: Cross-cultural research on parent–maintained multigenerational families with co-resident grandparents has shown largely positive outcomes for children, but few studies have explored the potential impact of this type of household structure on children in the American context. The goals of the current study were to investigate the association between grandparent co-residency in stable two-parent families and children’s early cognitive development (at ages 9 months and 2 years), and to examine whether grandparents’ provision of child care moderated this association. A secondary set of questions asked whether the pattern of associations under study varied by children’s ethnoracial background (White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Other). Data for this study were drawn from the first two waves of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), a unique, prospective study of development for a nationally representative sample of children born in the U.S. in 2001. Analyses focused on the 6,950 children who lived in stable two-parent families during their first two years of life. Descriptive results show that 11.3% of infants living in stable two-parent families in this national sample had at least one grandparent living with them during their first two years of life. A series of multivariate logistic regressions indicated that grandparent co-residency was a more likely occurrence for children with younger mothers, children in families below the poverty threshold and those receiving federal benefits, children in families with higher incomes (once poverty was accounted for), first born children and Asian children. Interesting differences emerged in the pattern of correlates of grandparent co-residency across ethnoracial groups. Poverty and federal assistance were the strongest predictors of co-residency for White, Hispanic, and “Other” families; whereas higher income was associated with co-residency for Black and Asian families. Hypotheses about the association between grandparent co-residency and children’s early cognitive development were not supported (for the full sample or any of the ethnoracial groups); however, supplementary analyses provided suggestive evidence of higher test scores at 9 months for children with co-resident grandmothers, and higher test scores at age 2 for children with co-resident grandfathers. I found no evidence that grandparent provision of child care moderated this association. Implications for future research and recommendations are further discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Cognitive outcomes, Early Childhood, Family Structure and race/ethnicity, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Multigenerational Households
Grandparent and child $z United States $v Longitudinal studies
Cognition in children $z United States $v Longitudinal studies

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