Do grandparents favor granddaughters? Biased grandparental investment in UK

  • Tanskanen A
  • Rotkirch A
  • Danielsbacka M
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Differential grandparental investment in grandchildren is often explained with paternity uncertainty. The asymmetric inheritance of the sex chromosomes, especially of the X chromosomes, may also bias grandparental investment. Recent studies show that ignoring the sex of the grandchild can mask important differences in the investment patterns of the same grandparent category, but this has not been tested in contemporary societies with nationally representative data. With 17 variables from the Involved Grandparenting and Child Well-Being 2007 survey, we tested differential grandparental investment as reported by British and Welsh adolescents and compared predictions based on X-chromosomal relatedness with predictions based on paternity uncertainty. The theories are expected to differ with regard to grandmaternal investment in grandsons and granddaughters. We test whether paternal grandmothers invest (H1) more in granddaughters than in grandsons, (H2) more in granddaughters than maternal grandmothers do and (H3) less in grandsons than maternal grandmothers do. In addition, following the suggestion that paternal grandmothers may reduce sibling competition between girls and boys by harming grandsons, we study whether (H4) paternal grandmothers channel more noninvestment into grandsons than into granddaughters. The results show no convincing support for the type of sex discrimination of grandchildren that is predicted by X-chromosomal relatedness theories, but do provide support for the paternity uncertainty theory. X-chromosomal relatedness does not appear to shape grandparental behavior in developed societies. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Grandchild
  • Grandparent
  • Paternity uncertainty
  • Sex chromosome

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  • Antti O. Tanskanen

  • Anna Rotkirch

  • Mirkka Danielsbacka

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