Educational Differences in the Cognitive Functioning of Grandmothers Caring for Grandchildren in South Korea

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Abstract

This study examined the effects of grandchild care on the cognitive functioning of Korean grandmothers and the moderating role of education. Data were drawn from the Korean Longitudinal Study of Ageing (KLoSA), a nationally representative sample of middle-aged and older adults (N = 2,341). Contrary to much of the current literature, grandchild care was found to be potentially beneficial for grandmothers. For the entire sample, child care had instantaneous effects on grandmothers’ cognition, although there were no longitudinal effects. However, when the sample was divided into grandmothers with higher and lower education, child care was both instantaneously and longitudinally beneficial to cognition for grandmothers with higher education. For less educated grandmothers, child care did not have either immediate or lagged effects on cognition. The results partially support the “Use It or Lose It” hypothesis and the “Scaffolding Theory of Cognitive Aging,” suggesting that engagement in social activities is beneficial to cognitive health in later life. Results are congruent with previous studies noting that the effects of grandchild care on grandparents are contingent on various conditions and factors such as the educational level of grandparents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-523
Number of pages24
JournalResearch on Aging
Volume37
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 6

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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