The wellbeing of grandparents caring for grandchildren in China and the United States

Lindsey Baker and Merril Silverstein

in Contemporary grandparenting

Published by Policy Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9781847429681
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781447307624 | DOI:
The wellbeing of grandparents caring for grandchildren in China and the United States

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The intensity and style of care for grandchildren, as well as the precipitating conditions of grandparental involvement vary substantially across countries and regions of the world. Grandparents in rural China tend to experience relatively more favourable family circumstances and have greater access to resources upon assuming the custodial grandparenting role when compared to their American counterparts, factors that appear to contribute to enhanced psychological well-being among Chinese grandparents in skipped-generation households. This finding highlights how family systems adapt to the societal demands imposed on them, with US grandparents more likely to intervene in reaction to a crisis in the middle generation such as neglect or abuse (‘child savers’), and rural Chinese grandparents more likely to be involved in pursuit of a larger economic goal such as the increased economic productivity of a migrant son (‘family maximizers’). Without Chinese grandparents being full-time carers for their grandchildren, migration certainly would be more difficult and perhaps impossible for many parents of young children in search of better employment opportunities, leading us to the conclusion that grandparents are the ‘unsung heroes’ of China's rapid economic expansion.

Keywords: Grandparents raising grandchildren; Custodial grandparents; Intergenerational relationships; China; United States; Wellbeing; Depression

Chapter.  7372 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Marriage and the Family

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