Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 477–512 | Cite as

The role of grandparenting in early childcare and child outcomes

  • Daniela Del Boca
  • Daniela Piazzalunga
  • Chiara Pronzato


This paper examines the short and medium term impact of early childcare provision by grandparents and formal care settings on child cognitive outcomes, using data from the Millennium Cohort Study (UK). Compared with children placed in formal childcare, children cared for by their grandparents are better at naming objects, but perform worse on tests of basic concept development and non-verbal reasoning. These results mask strong heterogeneities. On the one hand, the positive association between grandparental care and child outcomes is stronger for children from more advantaged households; on the other, the negative association is only significant for those from more disadvantaged households. The results of OLS estimations used for our analysis are confirmed using panel methods and an instrumental variable approach.


Grandparents Childcare Child cognitive outcomes 

JEL Classification

J13 D1 I21 



We are grateful to the participants to seminars at Collegio Carlo Alberto, NYU, Dondena (Bocconi), University of Lyon, ISER (University of Essex), University of Turin, International Workshop on Intergenerational Relations (University of Bolzano) and to participants at the 2014 Alp-Pop Conference in La Thuile and the 28th ESPE Conference in Braga for helpful discussions and suggestions. We thank Collegio Carlo Alberto for financial and technical support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no. 320116 for the research project FamiliesAndSocieties.

Supplementary material

11150_2017_9379_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (226 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniela Del Boca
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Daniela Piazzalunga
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Chiara Pronzato
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Economics and Statistics “Cognetti de Martiis”University of TurinTorinoItaly
  2. 2.CEPRWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.IZABonnGermany
  4. 4.CHILD Collegio Carlo AlbertoMoncalieriItaly
  5. 5.FBK-IRVAPPTrentoItaly

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