Understanding Race Differences in the Role of Grandparents in Single-Mother Families

Rachel Dunifon, Cornell University
David R. Harris, Cornell University
Lori Kowaleski-Jones, University of Utah

Our previous work (Dunifon and Kowaleski-Jones, 2007) examined whether children living with single mothers benefit when they also live with a grandparent, finding benefits for white, but not black, children. The goal of this study is to “unpack” these race differences by examining whether they are due to differences in grandparent characteristics such as education, health or age. Using data from the 1979 to 2004 waves of the NLSY mother-child file, we first examine a wide set of child outcomes (test scores, behavior, delinquency, and attitudes) to document where there are race differences in the influence of grandparent co-residence on children. We then seek to explain these race differences, using an extensive set of grandparent characteristics that could themselves differ by race. The goal is to better understand the role grandparents play in single-mother families and how and why this dynamic may differ by race.

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Presented in Session 93: Generational Exchanges and Relationships: Grandparents and Grandchildren