The Impact of Maternal Characteristics on Grandchild Care in China
Morrison, Donna Ruane
Assistance from grandparents in the upbringing of children is a long held tradition in China that has persisted despite major social and economic restructuring in recent decades. Grandparental involvement in the lives of their grandchildren takes many forms in contemporary China, ranging from little contact, to occasional babysitting, to the assumption of a surrogate parent role. Prior attempts to identify the factors that explain this heterogeneity have focused on structural constraints and opportunities, grandparents’ health and wealth, the adherence of sons to the Confucian virtue of filial piety, among others. However, the current study directly examines the relationship between a mother’s level of education and the probability that a co-residing grandparent will help care for her preschool-aged children. Using data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey, I use probit analysis to estimate a series of models that incrementally account for the influence of mother, child, and household characteristics. The results reveal that within three-generation households, grandchild care is positively associated with mothers’ educational attainment. However, mothers’ employment status does not appear to have a significant effect on grandchild care. In addition, the number of children in the household and the degree of urbanization in families’ geographical locations are also strong predictors of grandchild care.
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