Grandparent caregiving and cognitive functioning among older people: evidence from Korea

  • Taehyun Ahn
  • Kyong Duk Choi


Caregiving for grandchildren is becoming common and plays an important role in the childcare system in many countries. This study examines whether caregiving for grandchildren has a causal effect on grandparents’ cognitive functioning, using a longitudinal survey of older Koreans. To assess the causal relationship, we estimate a fixed-effects instrumental variable model by using the presence of a married child and a child aged 31–40 years as instruments. The estimation results reveal that caregiving for grandchildren significantly improves grandparents’ cognitive functioning. Caregiving for grandchildren is predicted to improve global cognitive functioning score by 30.05%, orientation score by 19.85%, delayed recall score by 95.58%, and language ability score by 30.10%. In addition, the effect of grandparent caregiving is salient among females as well as lower-income and less educated groups. Our findings suggest that caregiving for grandchildren, which is one of the most common forms of informal care, may play a complementary role to formal care.


Cognitive functioning Caregiving for grandchildren Informal care Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA) 

JEL Classification

I10 J13 



This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017S1A3A2066494).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EconomicsSogang UniversitySeoulKorea

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