Evolutionary studies have shown that in many traditional populations the beneficial effects of grandparental presence for grandchildren may vary according to the sex and lineage of the grandparents, as well as by the sex of the grandchild. However, few studies have investigated the relevance of these factors in modern developed societies. The present investigation uses the Millennium Cohort Study (n = 4,636 children) to analyse the association between grandparental investment and child development in contemporary England. Grandparental investment is measured by parent-grandparent contact frequencies at the child’s age of 3 and child development by “early learning goals” over the first year of primary school assessed with the Foundation Stage Profile (FSP). Children whose mothers reported contacts with maternal grandparents receive higher FSP scores compared to those with no contact at all. In addition, children whose fathers reported daily contacts with paternal grandfathers have lower FSP scores than other children. The study provides evidence of the relevance of grandparental investment on grandchild development also in developed societies. The results are discussed with reference to the grandmother hypothesis, sex-specific reproductive strategies and sex chromosome hypothesis.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
Chrastil E Getz WM Euler HA Stark PT. 2006. Paternity uncertainty overrides sex chromosome selection for preferential grandparenting. Evol Hum Behav 27:206-23.
Coall DA Hertwig R. 2010. Grandparental investment: Past present and future. Behav Brain Sci 33:1-59.
Coall DA Hertwig R. 2011. Grandparental investment: a relic of the past or a resource for the future? Curr Dir Psychol Sci 20:93-8.
Currie J Thomas D. 1999. Early Test Scores Socioeconomic Status and Future Outcomes. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. 6943. Available at: http://www.econ.ucla.edu/people/papers/currie/NCDSDOC.PDF.
Currie J Thomas D. 2001. Early test scores school quality and SES: Long-run effects on wage and employment outcomes. Worker Wellbeing in a Changing Labor Market 20:103-32.
Danielsbacka M Tanskanen AO. 2012. Adolescent grandchildren’s perceptions of grandparents’ involvement in UK: An interpretation from life course and evolutionary theory perspective. Eur J Ageing 9:329-41.
Dong H Manfredini M Kurosu S Yang W Lee JZ. 2016. Kin and birth order effects on male child mortality: three East Asian populations 1716-1945. Evol Hum Behav. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2016.10.001.
Euler HA. 2011. Grandparents and extended kin. In: CA Salmon and TK Shackelford editors. Oxford handbook of evolutionary family psychology. New York: Oxford University Press. 181-207.
Euler HA Weitzel B. 1996. Discriminative grandparental solicitude as reproductive strategy. Human Nature 7:39-59.
Feinstein L Duckworth K. 2006. Development in the early years: its importance for school performance and adult outcomes. London: Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning.
Fox M Sear R Beise J Ragsdale G Voland E Knapp LA. 2010. Grandma plays favourites: X-chromosome relatedness and sex specific childhood mortality. P Roy Soc B-Biol Sci 277: 567-73.
Hamilton WD. 1964. The genetical evolution of social behaviour I and II. J Theor Biol 7:1-52.
Hansen K editor. 2010. Millennium Cohort Study First Second Third and Fourth Surveys. A guide to the datasets. 5th edition. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
Hansen K Jones EM. 2008. Foundation Stage Profile and Devolved Administration Teacher Survey. In: K Hansen and H Joshi editors. Millennium Cohort Study Third Survey: A User’s Guide to Initial Findings. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies. 98-117.
Hawkes K O’Connell JF Blurton Jones NG. 1997. Hadza women’s time allocation offspring provisioning and the evolution of long postmenopausal life spans. Curr Anthropol 38:551-77.
Jamison CS Cornell LL Jamison PL Nakazato H. 2002. Are all grandmothers equal? A review and a preliminary test of the “grandmother hypothesis” in Tokugawa Japan. Am J Phys Anthropol 119:67−76.
Johnson J editor. 2008. Millennium Third Survey Follow-up: A guide to the school assessment datasets. 1st edition. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.
Johow J Fox M Knapp LA Voland E. 2011. The presence of a paternal grandmother lengthens interbirth interval following the birth of a granddaughter in Krummhorn (18th and 19th centuries). Evol Hum Behav 32:315-25.
Kachel FA Premo LS Hublin JJ. 2011. Grandmothering and natural selection. P Roy Soc B-Biol Sci 278:384-91.
Kaptijn R Thomese F van Tilburg TG Liefbroer AC. 2010. How grandparents matter. Support for the cooperative breeding hypothesis in a contemporary Dutch population. Human Nature 21:393-405.
Kaptjin R. Thomese F. Liefbroer A. C. & Silverstein M. (2013). Testing evolutionary theories of discriminative grandparental investment. J Biosoc Sci 45:1-22.
Kiernan KE Mensah FK. 2011. Poverty family resources and children’s early educational attainment: the mediating role of parenting. Brit Educ Res J 37:317-36.
Kirchengast S Putz B. 2016. Discriminative grandparental investment: the impact of grandchild’s gender and sociodemographic parameters. Anthropol Rev 79:151-67.
Kokko H Jennions M. 2003. It takes two to tango. Trends Ecol Evol 18:103-4.
Lahdenperä M Gillespie DOS Lummaa V Russell AF. 2012. Severe intergenerational reproductive conflict and the evolution of menopause. Ecol Lett 15:1283-90.
Lahdenperä M Lummaa V Helle S Tremblay M Russell AF. 2004. Fitness benefits of prolonged post-reproductive lifespan in women. Nature 428:178-81.
Lahdenperä M Russell AF Lummaa V. 2007. Selection for long lifespan in men: Benefits of grandfathering? P Roy Soc B-Biol Sci 274:2437-44.
Lussier G Deater-Deckard K Dunn J Davies L. 2002. Support across two generations: Children’s closeness to grandparents following parental divorce and remarriage. J Fam Psychol 16:363-76.
Pashos A. 2000. Does paternity uncertainty explain discriminative grandparental solicitude? A cross-cultural study in Greece and Germany. Evol Hum Behav 21;97-109.
Pittman LD. 2007. Grandmothers’ involvement among young adolescents growing up in poverty. J Res Adolescence 17:89-116.
Pollet TV Nelissen M Nettle D. 2009. Lineage based differences in grandparental investment: Evidence from a large British cohort study. J Biosoc Sci 41:355-79.
Pollet TV Nettle D Nelissen M. 2006. Contact frequencies between grandparent and grandchildren in a modern society: Estimates of the impact of paternity uncertainty. J Cult Evol Psychol 4:203-13.
Pollet TV Nettle D Nelissen M. 2007. Maternal grandmothers do go the extra mile: Factoring distance and lineage into differential contact with grandchildren. Evol Psychol 5: 832-43.
QCA. 2003. Foundation stage profile: handbook. London: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
Ragsdale G. 2004. Grandmothering in Cambridgeshire 1770-1861. Human Nature 15: 301−17.
Rice WR Gavrilets S Friberg U. 2010. The evolution of sex-specific grandparental harm. P Roy Soc B-Biol Sci 277:2727-35.
Rotering PP Bras H. 2015. With the help of kin? Household composition and reproduction in The Netherlands 1842-1920. Human Nature 26:102-21.
Scelza BA. 2011. The place of proximity: social support in mother-adult daughter relationships. Human Nature 22:108-27.
Scholl Perry K. 1996. Relationships among adolescents’ ego development their academic achievement and the amount of their contact with and social distance from grandparents. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis Pace University New York.
Sear R Coall DA. 2011. How much does family matter? Cooperative breeding and the demographic transition. Popul Dev Rev 37:81-112.
Sear R Mace R. 2008. Who keeps children alive? A review of the effects of kin on child survival. Evol Hum Behav 29:1-18.
Sear R Mace R McGregor IA. 2000. Maternal grandmothers improve the nutritional status and survival of children in rural Gambia. P Roy Soc B-Biol Sci 267:461-7.
Sear R Mace R McGregor IA. 2003. The effects of kin on female fertility in rural Gambia. Evol Hum Behav 24-25-42.
Seki M. 2012. Intra-individual conflicts between autosomal and X-linked altruistic genes: Evolutionary perspective of sex specific grandmothering. J Theor Biol 304:273-85.
Snopkowski K Sear R. 2015. Grandparental help in Indonesia is directed preferentially towards needier descendants: A potential confounder when exploring grandparental influences on child health. Soc Sci Med 128:105-14.
Strassmann BI. Garrard WM. 2011. Alternatives to the grandmother hypothesis. Hum Nat 22:201-222.
Tanskanen AO. 2013. The association between grandmaternal investment and early years overweight in the UK. Evol Psychol 11:417-25.
Tanskanen AO Danielsbacka M. 2012. Beneficial effects of grandparental involvement vary by lineage in the UK. Pers Indiv Differ 53:985-8.
Tanskanen AO Danielsbacka M. 2016. Maternal grandfathers and child development in England. In: A Buchanan and A Rotkirch editors. Grandfathers: global perspectives. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 217-28.
Tanskanen AO Rotkirch A Danielsbacka M. 2011. Do grandparents favor granddaughters? Biased grandparental investment in UK. Evol Hum Behav 32:407-15.
Trivers RL. 1972. Parental investment and sexual selection. In: B Campbell editor. Sexual selection and the descent of man. Chicago: Aldine. 52-97.
Waynforth D. 2011. Grandparental investment and reproductive decisions in the longitudinal 1970 British cohort study. P Roy Soc B-Biol Sci 279:1155-60.
Voland E Beise J. 2002. Opposite effects of maternal and paternal grandmothers on infant survival in historical Krummhörn. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 52:435−43.