Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, xi, 227 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kate W. Strully

Committee Members

Scott J. South, Katherine Trent


Child development and health, Grandparental effects, Health inequality, Life course, Grandparent and child, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Grandparents as parents

Subject Categories

Demography, Population, and Ecology | Sociology


Health disparities in relation to socioeconomic status are persistent and pervasive in the United States. My dissertation investigates the intergenerational determinants of child wellbeing. Driven by several life course models as well as the cumulative (dis)advantage theory, this dissertation examines whether and how grandparental socioeconomic status (SES) shapes the health and cognitive skills of their grandchildren, paying special attention to identifying direct and indirect processes, and assesses the heterogeneous effects by child race. Analyses are based on longitudinal data from the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the supplemental studies of Child Development Supplement (CDS). I use multivariate regression analysis, Marginal Structural Models (MSMs) with inverse probability weighting, and causal mediation analysis, to estimate the direct grandparental SES effects on grandchildren’s wellbeing and to test multiple indirect pathways and mechanisms via the parent generation. In addition, I use growth curve models to describe children’s health and cognitive trajectories and assess how grandparental SES is associated with child development trajectories over time. This research highlights how social disadvantage, particularly low socioeconomic status and the health burden it brings, is passed from one generation to the next. Results will also highlight the role of SES in eroding or perpetuating health inequalities across generations, making both theoretical and empirical contributions to the ongoing debate about the origin and persistence of health disparities.