Rightly blamed the ‘bad guy’? Grandparental childcare and COVID-19

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  • 1 German Youth Institute, , Germany
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This study explores the link between regular grandparental childcare and SARS-CoV-2 infection rates at the level of German counties. In our analysis, we suggest that a region’s infection rates are shaped by region-, household- and individual-specific parameters. We extensively draw on the latter, exploring the intra- and extra-familial mechanisms fuelling individual contact frequency to test the potential role of regular grandparental childcare in explaining overall infection rates. We combine aggregate survey data with local administrative data for German counties and find a positive correlation between the frequency of regular grandparental childcare and local SARS-CoV-2 infection rates. However, the statistical significance of this relationship breaks down as soon as potentially confounding factors, in particular, the local Catholic population share, are controlled for. Our findings do not provide valid support for a significant role of grandparental childcare in driving SARS-CoV-2 infections, but rather suggest that the frequency of extra-familial contacts driven by religious communities might be a more relevant channel in this context. Our results cast doubt on simplistic narratives postulating a link between intergenerational contacts and infection rates.

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  • 1 German Youth Institute, , Germany

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