The study reported here shows that having a partner in one’s older years increases individual capacity for involvement with grandchildren, for grandfathers as well as grandmothers. Nevertheless, the relative advantage is most notable for grandfathers, and in this way they appear more dependent on having a partner at their side. However, since they often have a living spouse, they are typically still doing well. On a more general sociological level, the empirical pattern thus supports the idea that (older) men benefit more from the marriage institution or similar partnership arrangements than women do. In short: good grandfathers have a partner.
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We use data from SHARELIFE Release 1, as of 24 November 2010, or SHARE Release 2.3.1, as of 29 July 2010. The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through the 5th framework programme (Project QLK6-CT-2001-00360 in the thematic programme Quality of Life), through the 6th framework programme (Projects SHARE-I3, RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE, CIT5-CT-2005-028857, and SHARELIFE, CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and through the 7th framework programme (SHARE-PREP, 211909, and SHARE-LEAP, 227822). Additional funding from the US National Institute on Aging (U01 AG09740-13S2, P01 AG005842, P01 AG08291, P30 AG12815, Y1-AG-4553-01, and OGHA 04-064, IAG BSR06-11, R21 AG025169) as well as from various national sources is gratefully acknowledged (see www.share-project.org/t3/share/index.php for a full list of funding institutions).
The data from these earlier rounds have been upgraded several times and are considered to be of high quality.
In our data, two-thirds of the grandmothers without a partner were widows; this holds for only half of grandfathers living alone.
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Knudsen, K. (2016). Good Grandfathers Have a Partner. In: Buchanan, A., Rotkirch, A. (eds) Grandfathers. Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-56338-5_9
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