A theory of the value of grandchildren

  • Friedman D
  • Hechter M
  • Kreager D
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Abstract

As innovations in medical technology extend average longevity, grandparents become increasingly present during the lives of their grandchildren. We propose a theory that seeks to explain differential investment in grandchildren. The theory relies on a fundamental assumption of uncertainty reduction to explain why grandparents in post-industrial societies might find it rational to invest in at least one of their grandchildren. We advance numerous illustrative hypotheses about end of life uncertainty, as well as proportional and differential investments in grandchildren, and discuss the relevance of existing empirical literature.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Elder care
  • Grandchildren
  • Grandparents
  • Intergenerational transfer
  • Rational choice

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