A theory of the value of grandchildren

Debra Friedman, Michael Hechter, Derek Kreager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


As innovations in medical technology extend average longevity, grandparents become increasingly present during the lives of their grandchildren. We propose a theory that seeks to explain differential investment in grandchildren. The theory relies on a fundamental assumption of uncertainty reduction to explain why grandparents in post-industrial societies might find it rational to invest in at least one of their grandchildren. We advance numerous illustrative hypotheses about end of life uncertainty, as well as proportional and differential investments in grandchildren, and discuss the relevance of existing empirical literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-63
Number of pages33
JournalRationality and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Elder care
  • Grandchildren
  • Grandparents
  • Intergenerational transfer
  • Rational choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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