Lineage based differences in grandparental investment: evidence from a large British cohort study.

Thomas V. Pollet, University of Groningen
Mark Nelissen, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp
Daniel Nettle, Centre for Behaviour and Evolution

Evolutionary theory suggests that maternal grandparents will invest more in their grandchildren than paternal grandparents, due to the difference between the certainty of maternity and the uncertainty of paternity. Tests of this prediction have tended to use retrospective ratings by grandchildren rather than examining grandparental behaviour. Using a large-scale dataset from the UK (n>7,000), we show significant differences between maternal and paternal grandparents in terms of frequencies of contact with their newborn grandchildren, while controlling for a wide range of other variables. Maternal grandparents also provided a significantly wider range of financial benefits than paternal grandparents. Maternal grandparents were also more likely to provide essentials and gifts and extras for the baby. Multiple correspondence analysis showed that contact frequencies systematically related to other measures of grandparental investment, indicating that contact frequencies are a useful proxy measure to examine overall investment. Findings are discussed with reference to the paternity uncertainty hypothesis.

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Presented in Session 225: Intergenerational transfers of resources and reproductive trajectories (2)