Caring as curing: Grandparenting and depressive symptoms in China

Seung won Emily Choi, Zhenmei Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Research on grandparenting (i.e., caring for grandchildren) and mental health in Asian contexts has been limited, despite the rapid growth of older adults who take care of grandchildren. This study aims to investigate how grandparenting influences depressive symptoms in China. Using the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (2011–2015, N = 4354), we conducted fixed effects regression models to examine the association between various types of grandparenting and depressive symptoms among older adults between the ages of 45 and 80. The results show that for grandparents, providing care to their grandchildren in skipped-generation households (i.e., grandparent-grandchildren families without adult children) is associated with a lower level of depressive symptoms compared to providing no care, after controlling for socioeconomic status, health behaviors, social support, and basic demographic characteristics. Other types of care (i.e., multigenerational household grandparenting, and part-time and full-time noncoresident grandparenting) are not significantly linked to caregiving grandparents’ depressive symptoms. Overall, our findings suggest that sociocultural contexts need to be considered in explaining the different mental health implications of grandparenting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114452
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Caregiving
  • Intergenerational relationships
  • Living arrangements
  • Mental health


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