Lost support, lost skills: Children's cognitive outcomes following grandparental death

Michelle Sarah Livings, Emily Smith-Greenaway, Rachel Margolis, Ashton M. Verdery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study examines the implications of grandparental death for cognitive skills in middle childhood. Method: This study uses data from the Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 2479) to estimate ordinary least squares regression models of the associations between grandparental death and subsequent cognitive skills among children in middle childhood. Results: Experiencing a grandparental death between ages 5 and 9 is associated with boys' lower reading, verbal, and math scores at age 9, with associations most notable for Black and Hispanic boys; grandparental death before age 5 has minimal influence on boys' cognitive skills at age 9. There is little indication that grandparental death adversely affects girls’ cognitive skills. Conclusion: The numerous and persistent implications of grandparental death for boys’ cognitive skills merit greater recognition of grandparental death as a source of family instability, stress, and ultimately inequality in child development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102942
JournalSocial Science Research
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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