It's up to the parents

Kevin Lewis

August 08, 2017

Learning on Hold: Cell Phones Sidetrack Parent-Child Interactions
Jessa Reed, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek & Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
Developmental Psychology, August 2017, Pages 1428-1436

Although research suggests that responsive interactions are imperative for language development, the advent of mobile technology means that parent-child exchanges are often fraught with unpredictable interruptions. Less clear is how these momentary breaks in responsiveness affect word learning. In this within-subjects design, 38 mothers taught their 2-year-olds (M = 27.15 months) 2 novel words, 1 at a time. One teaching period was interrupted by a cell phone call. Children learned the word when the teaching was not interrupted, but not when it was interrupted. Critically, the number of times each target word was spoken did not differ by condition. This finding supports the literature on responsiveness, offering experimental evidence that interruptions in social interactions can affect learning outcomes.

Parents’ views on sex education in schools: How much do Democrats and Republicans agree?
Leslie Kantor & Nicole Levitz
PLoS ONE, July 2017

More than 93 percent of parents place high importance on sex education in both middle and high school. Sex education in middle and high school is widely supported by parents regardless of their political affiliation. Using data from a large diverse sample of 1,633 parents of children aged 9 to 21 years, we examined whether views on sex education differed by parents’ political affiliation. More than 89 percent of parents that identified as Republicans or Democrats support including a wide range of topics in sex education including puberty, healthy relationships, abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and birth control in high school. In middle school, 78 percent or more of both parents that identified as Republicans and Democrats support the inclusion of those topics. Controlling for key demographic factors, parents that identified as Democrats are more likely than those that identified as Republicans to support the inclusion of the topics of healthy relationships, birth control, STDs, and sexual orientation in both middle and high school. However, a strong majority of Republican parents want all these topics included in sex education. Sex education which includes a broad set of topics represents an area of strong agreement between parents of both political parties.

The effect of child maltreatment on illegal and problematic behaviour: New evidence on the ‘cycle of violence’ using twins data
Violeta Misheva, Dinand Webbink & Nicholas Martin
Journal of Population Economics, October 2017, Pages 1035–1067

This paper investigates the effect of physical and sexual child maltreatment on several types of illegal and problematic behaviour. By using variation within pairs of twins, we are able to mitigate concerns about confounding factors from previous studies. Using ordinary least squares and twin fixed effects estimation approaches, we find that child maltreatment has a large effect on illegal and problematic behaviours such as drug abuse, conduct disorders, and crime. The estimated effects suggest an increase of illegal and problematic behaviour between 50 and 100%. Our findings are consistent with the so-called cycle of violence hypothesis.

Child Health in Elementary School Following California's Paid Family Leave Program
Shirlee Lichtman-Sadot & Neryvia Pillay Bell
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

We evaluate changes in elementary school children health outcomes following the introduction of California's Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, which provided parents with paid time off following the birth of a child. Our health outcomes — overweight, ADHD, and hearing-related problems — are characterized by diagnosis rates that only pick up during early elementary school. Moreover, our health outcomes have been found to be negatively linked with many potential implications of extended maternity leave — increased breastfeeding, prompt medical checkups at infancy, reduced prenatal stress, and reduced non-parental care during infancy. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Studies (ECLS) within a difference-in-differences framework, our results suggest improvements in health outcomes among California elementary school children following PFL's introduction. Furthermore, the improvements are driven by children from less advantaged backgrounds, which is consistent with the notion that California's PFL had the greatest effect on leave-taking duration after childbirth mostly for less advantaged mothers who previously could not afford to take unpaid leave.

Child-custody reform and the division of labor in the household
Duha Altindag, John Nunley & Alan Seals
Review of Economics of the Household, September 2017, Pages 833–856

We investigate whether the adoption of joint-custody laws affects the amount of time that married mothers and fathers devote to market and household work. Our findings suggest that custody reform induces a reallocation of time within marriage, with mothers working more in the market and fathers working more in the home. However, fathers lower their labor-force-participation rates in response to custody reform. The patterns in the data are most easily reconciled with models that emphasize shifts in bargaining power to one household member, which is likely the father in the case of joint-custody reform.

Desperate Housewives? Differences in Work Satisfaction Between Stay-At-Home and Employed Mothers, 1972-2012
Stephen Cranney & Andrew Miles
Journal of Family Issues, August 2017, Pages 1604-1625

Stay-at-home and employed mothers have been the subject of a wide range of both academic and popular discourse about roles, satisfaction, and meaning. However, no literature has examined time trends in relative satisfaction with being a stay-at-home versus a working mother. Here, we use pooled, yearly data from the General Social Survey to examine trends in how satisfied stay-at-home mothers are with their work relative to employed mothers. We find that stay-at-home mothers used to report less satisfaction with their work than employed mothers, but this gap became statistically nonsignificant around the same time trends in which societal attitudes toward gender roles began to shift. These changes are widespread across different socioeconomic and ideological groups, and do not appear to be attributable to sociodemographic composition changes.

The Long-Term Effects of Legalizing Divorce on Children
Libertad González & Tarja Viitanen
Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

We estimate the effect of divorce legalization on the long-term well-being of children, by exploiting the different timing of divorce legalization across Europe. We compare the adult outcomes of cohorts raised when divorce was banned with those of cohorts raised after divorce was legalized in the same country. We also have ‘control’ countries where all cohorts were exposed (or not exposed) to legal divorce as children. We find that women who grew up under legal divorce have lower earnings and income and worse health as adults compared with women who grew up under illegal divorce. These negative effects are not found for men.

Telling young children they have a reputation for being smart promotes cheating
Li Zhao et al.
Developmental Science, forthcoming

The present research examined the consequences of telling young children they have a reputation for being smart. Of interest was how this would affect their willingness to resist the temptation to cheat for personal gain as assessed by a temptation resistance task, in which children promised not to cheat in the game. Two studies with 3- and 5-year-old children (total N = 323) assessed this possibility. In Study 1, participants were assigned to one of three conditions: a smart reputation condition in which they were told they have a reputation for being smart, an irrelevant reputation control condition, or a no reputation control condition. Children in the smart reputation condition were significantly more likely to cheat than their counterparts in either control condition. Study 2 confirmed that reputational concerns are indeed a fundamental part of our smart reputation effect. These results suggest that children as young as 3 years of age are able to use reputational cues to guide their behavior, and that telling young children they have a positive reputation for being smart can have negative consequences.

Single mothers, the role of fathers, and the risk for child maltreatment
William Schneider
Children and Youth Services Review, October 2017, Pages 81–93

Single motherhood has long been linked to the risk for child maltreatment. However, little is known about the role of fathers in buffering mothers' risk for child maltreatment. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this paper investigates (1) the ways in which non-resident fathers' economic contributions and involvement in parenting may moderate associations between mothers' transitions to being single and the risk for child maltreatment, and (2) whether these processes vary by race/ethnicity. Results indicate that mothers' transitions to being single are not strongly associated with the risk for child abuse. However, mothers' transitions to being single are associated with an increase in the risk for child neglect, and this is moderated by non-resident father involvement. Last, Black but not other mothers' transitions to being single are associated with the risk for child abuse, and are largely not moderated by non-resident father involvement.

An Analysis of the Memphis Nurse-Family Partnership Program
James Heckman et al.
NBER Working Paper, July 2017

This paper evaluates a randomized controlled trial of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program conducted in Memphis, TN in 1990. NFP offers home visits conducted by nurses for disadvantaged first-time mothers during pregnancy and early childhood. We test NFP treatment effects using permutation-based inference that accounts for the NFP randomization protocol. Our methodology is valid for small samples and corrects for multiple-hypothesis testing. We also analyze the underlying mechanisms generating these treatment effects. We decompose NFP treatment effects into components associated with the intervention-enhanced parenting and early childhood skills. The NFP improves home investments, parenting attitudes and mental health for mothers of infants at age 2. At age 6, the NFP boosts cognitive skills for both genders and socio-emotional skills for females. These treatment effects are explained by program-induced improvements in maternal traits and early-life family investments. At age 12, the treatment effects for males (but not for females) persist in the form of enhanced achievement test scores. Treatment effects are largely explained by enhanced cognitive skills at age 6. Our evidence of pronounced gender differences in response to early childhood interventions contributes to a growing literature on this topic.

Gift Giving at Israeli Weddings as a Function of Genetic Relatedness and Kinship Certainty
Sigal Tifferet et al.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

This study examines gift giving at Israeli weddings. In accordance with kin selection theory, we hypothesized that wedding guests possessing greater genetic relatedness to the newlyweds would offer greater sums of money as wedding gifts. We also hypothesized that family members stemming from the maternal side (where the genetic lineage has higher kinship certainty), would offer the newlyweds more money than those stemming from the paternal side. Data on the monetary gift sums of the wedding guests from 30 weddings were collapsed according to two criteria: (1) genetic relatedness (0%, 6.25%, 12.5%, 25%, and 50%) and (2) kinship certainty (maternal or paternal lineage). Both hypotheses were supported. We discuss the implications of these data in understanding family dynamics, as well as practical applications associated with the marketing of gifts.

Young Adults Living with their Parents and the Influence of Peers
Effrosyni Adamopoulou & Ezgi Kaya
Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

This study examines the impact of peer behaviour on the living arrangements of young adults in the US using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. We achieve identification by exploiting the differences in the timing of leaving the parental home among peers, the individual-specific nature of the peer groups that are based on friendship nominations, and by including network and cohort fixed effects. Our results indicate that there are statistically significant peer effects on young adults’ decisions to leave the parental home. We discuss various mechanisms and confirm the robustness of our results through a placebo exercise. 

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