Three-generation households and child mental health in European countries

  • Viviane Kovess MasfetyEmail author
  • Carlijn Aarnink
  • Roy Otten
  • Adina Bitfoi
  • Zlatka Mihova
  • Sigita Lesinskiene
  • Mauro Giovanni Carta
  • Dietmar Goelitz
  • Mathilde Husky
Original Paper



To evaluate the associations between the presence of a grand parent at home that is three-generation household, with children mental health in diverse countries whether this situation is frequent or not.


Data from the School Children Mental Health in Europe cross-sectional survey in six countries (n = 4582) were used to examine the association between three-generation households and child mental health across Europe. The parent and teacher Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was combined to assess child mental clinical problems.


Overall, 25.13% of European families live with at least one grandparent: 5.46% in Western and 29.70% in Eastern Europe. Controlling for key sociodemographic variables and for country of residence, the presence of a grandparent is associated with an increased risk for child mental health problems in the total sample (OR 1.37, p = 0.002). In two-parent homes, the effect of the presence of a grandparent is significant (OR 1.40, p = 0.026), while it is not in single-parent homes. In each country, the presence of a grandparent is a risk for either externalizing or internalizing problems.


Programs may be developed to educate elderly people to better respect their children’s role as parents so having a grandparent in the home can become an asset for family members rather than a burden.


Child mental health Family European countries Grandparents 



Funding was provided by Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (Grant no. 2006336).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared to have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Viviane Kovess Masfety
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carlijn Aarnink
    • 2
  • Roy Otten
    • 2
  • Adina Bitfoi
    • 3
  • Zlatka Mihova
    • 4
  • Sigita Lesinskiene
    • 5
  • Mauro Giovanni Carta
    • 6
  • Dietmar Goelitz
    • 7
  • Mathilde Husky
    • 8
  1. 1.Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique, EA 4057 Université Paris DescartesParisFrance
  2. 2.Radboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.The Romanian League for Mental HealthBucharestRomania
  4. 4.New Bulgarian UniversitySofiaBulgaria
  5. 5.Clinic of Psychiatry, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of VilniusVilniusLithuania
  6. 6.Psychiatric Unit, Department of Public HealthUniversity of CagliariCagliariItaly
  7. 7.University of Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany
  8. 8.Institut Universitaire de FranceUniversité de BordeauxBordeauxFrance

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