A theory of the value of grandchildren

Debra Friedman, Michael Hechter, Derek Kreager

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


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)
Title of host publicationRational Choice Sociology
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on Theory, Collective Action and Social Order
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9781789903256
ISBN (Print)9781789903249
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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