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The health effects of caregiving by grandparents in Taiwan: an instrumental variable estimation

  • Li-Jung Ku

    ()

  • Sally Stearns

    ()

  • Courtney Houtven

    ()

  • George Holmes

    ()

Previous research on the health effects of caring for grandchildren has had variable findings, including both positive and negative effects on the health of grandparents. The estimated effects of caregiving may be affected by selection, with the health of grandparent affecting the likelihood of undertaking caregiving. The health effects of caregiving also likely differ according to the cultural motivations for caregiving by grandparents. This paper assesses whether selection into caring for grandchildren affects the estimated effects of caregiving on the health of Taiwanese grandparents. We used four waves (1993–2003) of the Survey of Health and Living Status of the Elderly in Taiwan to estimate the effect of grandparent caregiving on self-rated health, mobility, and depression. To control for unobserved selection into caregiving, we employed time-varying instrumental variables (the number of grandchildren and marital status of adult children) in addition to person fixed effects. After adjusting for baseline differences, caregivers had better self-rated health, fewer mobility limitations, and fewer depressive symptoms compared to the non-caregivers, which suggest evidence of health improvement for grandparents. Instrumental variable analysis showed that caring for grandchildren was endogenously determined with grandparents’ mobility limitations, and grandparent caregivers benefited from a significant reduction in the number of mobility limitations. Our finding suggests that caring for grandchildren can be beneficial for the health of Taiwanese grandparents and supports our hypothesis that a culturally expected role of caregiving results in role enhancement. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11150-012-9154-9
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Review of Economics of the Household.

Volume (Year): 10 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 521-540

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Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:10:y:2012:i:4:p:521-540
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=109451

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  1. Coe, N.B. & Van Houtven, C.H., 2008. "Caring for Mom and Neglecting Yourself? The Health Effects of Caring for an Elderly Parent," Discussion Paper 2008-89, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Van Houtven, Courtney Harold & Norton, Edward C., 2004. "Informal care and health care use of older adults," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 1159-1180, November.
  3. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cox, Donald & Rank, Mark R, 1992. "Inter-vivos Transfers and Intergenerational Exchange," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 305-14, May.
  5. K. Bolin & B. Lindgren & P. Lundborg, 2008. "Informal and formal care among single-living elderly in Europe," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 393-409.
  6. Verbeek, Marno & Nijman, Theo, 1992. "Testing for Selectivity Bias in Panel Data Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 681-703, August.
  7. Chung-Ping Loh, 2009. "Physical inactivity and working hour inflexibility: evidence from a U.S. sample of older men," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 257-281, September.
  8. Lindsey A. Baker & Merril Silverstein, 2008. "Preventive Health Behaviors Among Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 63(5), pages S304-S311.
  9. Nijman, T.E. & Verbeek, M.J.C.M., 1992. "Testing for selectivity in panel data models," Other publications TiSEM 7ec34a6c-1d84-4052-971c-d, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  10. Wang, Ying & Marcotte, Dave E., 2007. "Golden Years? The Labor Market Effects of Caring for Grandchildren," IZA Discussion Papers 2629, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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