Mom and dad

Kevin Lewis

January 22, 2013

A Reconsideration of the Fatherhood Premium: Marriage, Coresidence, Biology, and Fathers' Wages

Alexandra Killewald
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Past research that asserts a fatherhood wage premium often ignores the heterogeneity of fathering contexts. I expect fatherhood to produce wage gains for men if it prompts them to alter their behavior in ways that increase labor-market productivity. Identity theory predicts a larger productivity-based fatherhood premium when ties of biology, coresidence with the child, and marriage to the child's mother reinforce one another, making fatherhood, and the role of financial provider in particular, salient, high in commitment, and clear. Employer discrimination against fathers in less normative family structures may also contribute to variation in the fatherhood premium. Using fixed-effects models and data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), I find that married, residential, biological fatherhood is associated with wage gains of about 4 percent, but unmarried residential fathers, nonresidential fathers, and stepfathers do not receive a fatherhood premium. Married residential fathers also receive no statistically significant wage premium when their wives work full-time. About 15 percent of the wage premium for married residential fathers can be explained by changes in human capital and job traits.


Investing in Children: Changes in Parental Spending on Children, 1972-2007

Sabino Kornrich & Frank Furstenberg
Demography, forthcoming

Parental spending on children is often presumed to be one of the main ways that parents invest in children and a main reason why children from wealthier households are advantaged. Yet, although research has tracked changes in the other main form of parental investment - namely, time - there is little research on spending. We use data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey to examine how spending changed from the early 1970s to the late 2000s, focusing particularly on inequality in parental investment in children. Parental spending increased, as did inequality of investment. We also investigate shifts in the composition of spending and linkages to children's characteristics. Investment in male and female children changed substantially: households with only female children spent significantly less than parents in households with only male children in the early 1970s; but by the 1990s, spending had equalized; and by the late 2000s, girls appeared to enjoy an advantage. Finally, the shape of parental investment over the course of children's lives changed. Prior to the 1990s, parents spent most on children in their teen years. After the 1990s, however, spending was greatest when children were under the age of 6 and in their mid-20s.


Changes in the Frequency of Family Meals From 1999 to 2010 in the Homes of Adolescents: Trends by Sociodemographic Characteristics

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, February 2013, Pages 201-206

Objective: To examine secular trends from 1999 to 2010 in family meal frequency in a population-based sample of adolescents across sociodemographic characteristics.

Methods: A repeated cross-sectional design was used. Participants were from middle schools and high schools in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and included 3,072 adolescents (mean age = 14.6 ± 1.8 years) in 1999 and 2,793 adolescents (mean age = 14.4 ± 2.0 years) in 2010 from diverse ethnic/racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Trends in family meal frequency were examined using inverse probability weighting to control for changes in sociodemographic characteristics over time.

Results: Family meal frequency remained fairly constant from 1999 to 2010 in the overall sample, but decreases were found in population subgroups including girls, middle school students (grade: 6-8), Asians, and youth from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Among youth from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds, the mean number of family meals in the past week decreased from 4.0 in 1999 to 3.6 in 2010 (p = .003). Furthermore, the percentage of youth from low socioeconomic backgrounds eating five or more meals in the past week decreased from 46.9% in 1999 to 38.8% in 2010 (p < .001). In contrast, family meal frequency tended to increase over time among youth from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

Conclusions: The widening gap in family meal frequency between youth from low and high socioeconomic backgrounds is concerning, particularly given the greater risk for poor health outcomes among low-income youth. Given findings from other studies suggesting multiple benefits of family meals, interventions to increase family meal frequency are needed that target adolescents and their families from the most vulnerable segments of the population.


Racial and ethnic disparities: A population-based examination of risk factors for involvement with child protective services

Emily Putnam-Hornstein et al.
Child Abuse & Neglect, forthcoming

Objective: Data from the United States indicate pronounced and persistent racial/ethnic differences in the rates at which children are referred and substantiated as victims of child abuse and neglect. In this study, we examined the extent to which aggregate racial differences are attributable to variations in the distribution of individual and family-level risk factors.

Methods: This study was based on the full population of children born in California in 2002. Birth records were linked to child protective service (CPS) records to identify all children referred for maltreatment by age 5. Generalized linear models were used to compute crude and adjusted racial/ethnic differences in children's risk of referral, substantiation, and entry to foster care.

Results: As expected, stark differences between Black and White children emerged in the rates of contact with CPS. Black children were more than twice as likely as White children to be referred for maltreatment, substantiated as victims, and enter foster care before age 5. Yet, there were also significant differences across racial/ethnic groups in the distribution of socioeconomic and health factors strongly correlated with child maltreatment and CPS involvement. After adjusting for these differences, low socioeconomic Black children had a lower risk of referral, substantiation, and entry to foster care than their socioeconomically similar White counterparts. Among Latinos, before adjusting for other factors, children of U.S.-born mothers were significantly more likely than White children to experience system contact, while children of foreign-born mothers were less likely to be involved with CPS. After adjusting for socioeconomic and health indicators, the relative risk of referral, substantiation, and foster care entry was significantly lower for Latino children (regardless of maternal nativity) compared to White children.

Conclusions: Race and ethnicity is a marker for a complex interaction of economic, social, political, and environmental factors that influence the health of individuals and communities. This analysis indicates that adjusting for child and family-level risk factors is necessary to distinguish race-specific effects (which may reflect system, worker, or resource biases) from socioeconomic and health indicators associated with maltreatment risk. Identifying the independent effects of these factors is critical to developing effective strategies for reducing racial disparities.


More Is More or More Is Less? Parental Financial Investments during College

Laura Hamilton
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Evidence shows that parental financial investments increase college attendance, but we know little about how these investments shape postsecondary achievement. Two theoretical frameworks suggest diametric conclusions. Some studies operate from a more-is-more perspective in which children use calculated parental allocations to make academic progress. In contrast, a more-is-less perspective, rooted in a different model of rational behavior, suggests that parental investments create a disincentive for student achievement. I adjudicate between these frameworks, using data from nationally representative postsecondary datasets to determine what effect financial parental investments have on student GPA and degree completion. The findings suggest seemingly contradictory processes. Parental aid decreases student GPA, but it increases the odds of graduating - net of explanatory variables and accounting for alternative funding. Rather than strategically using resources in accordance with parental goals, or maximizing on their ability to avoid academic work, students are satisficing: they meet the criteria for adequacy on multiple fronts, rather than optimizing their chances for a particular outcome. As a result, students with parental funding often perform well enough to stay in school but dial down their academic efforts. I conclude by highlighting the importance of life stage and institutional context for parental investment.


Is Biology Destiny? Birth Weight and Differential Parental Treatment

Amy Hsin
Demography, November 2012, Pages 1385-1405

Time diaries of sibling pairs from the PSID-CDS are used to determine whether maternal time investments compensate for or reinforce birth-weight differences among children. The findings demonstrate that the direction and degree of differential treatment vary by mother's education. Less-educated mothers devote more total time and more educationally oriented time to heavier-birth-weight children, whereas better-educated mothers devote more total and more educationally oriented time to lower-birth-weight children. The compensating effects observed among highly educated mothers are substantially larger than the reinforcing effects among the least-educated mothers. The findings show that families redistribute resources in ways that both compensate for and exacerbate early-life disadvantages.


Mothers' and Fathers' Work Hours, Child Gender, and Behavior in Middle Childhood

Sarah Johnson et al.
Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2013, Pages 56-74

This study examined the association between typical parental work hours (including nonemployed parents) and children's behavior in two-parent heterosexual families. Child behavior was measured by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) at ages 5, 8, and 10 in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study (N = 4,201 child-year observations). Compared to those whose fathers worked fewer hours per week, children whose fathers worked 55 hours or more per week had significantly higher levels of externalizing behavior. This association was not explained by father-child time during the week, poorer family functioning, or overreactive parenting practice. Further, when stratifying the analysis by child gender, this association appeared to exist only in boys. Mothers' work hours were unrelated to children's behavioral problems. The role of parent and child gender in the relationships between parental work hours and children's behavioral problems, together with mediating factors, warrants further investigation.


Little Evidence That Time in Child Care Causes Externalizing Problems During Early Childhood in Norway

Henrik Zachrisson et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

Associations between maternal reports of hours in child care and children's externalizing problems at 18 and 36 months of age were examined in a population-based Norwegian sample (n = 75,271). Within a sociopolitical context of homogenously high-quality child care, there was little evidence that high quantity of care causes externalizing problems. Using conventional approaches to handling selection bias and listwise deletion for substantial attrition in this sample, more hours in care predicted higher problem levels, yet with small effect sizes. The finding, however, was not robust to using multiple imputation for missing values. Moreover, when sibling and individual fixed-effects models for handling selection bias were used, no relation between hours and problems was evident.


The Effects of California's Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers' Leave-Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes

Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher Ruhm & Jane Waldfogel
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

This analysis uses March Current Population Survey data from 1999 to 2010 and a differences-in-differences approach to examine how California's first in the nation paid family leave (PFL) program affected leave-taking by mothers following childbirth, as well as subsequent labor market outcomes. We obtain robust evidence that the California program doubled the overall use of maternity leave, increasing it from an average of three to six weeks for new mothers - with some evidence of particularly large growth for less advantaged groups. We also provide evidence that PFL increased the usual weekly work hours of employed mothers of 1- to 3-year-old children by 10 to 17 percent and that their wage incomes may have risen by a similar amount.


Law, Economics, and Culture: Theory of Mandated Benefits and Evidence from Maternity Leave Policies

Yehonatan Givati & Ugo Troiano
Journal of Law and Economics, May 2012, Pages 339-364

Why do some countries mandate a long maternity leave, while others mandate only a short one? We incorporate into a standard mandated-benefit model social tolerance of gender-based discrimination, showing that the optimal length of maternity leave depends on it. The less tolerant a society is of gender-based discrimination, the longer the maternity leave it will mandate. Relying on recent research in psychology and linguistics according to which patterns in languages offer a window into their speakers' dispositions, we collected new data on the number of gender-differentiated personal pronouns across languages to capture societies' attitudes toward gender-based discrimination. We first confirm, using within-country language variation, that our linguistic measure is correlated with attitudes toward gender-based discrimination. Then, using cross-country data on length of maternity leave, while controlling for other parameters, we find a strong correlation between our language-based measure of attitudes and the length of maternity leave.


Does transition into parenthood lead to changes in mental health? Findings from three waves of a population based panel study

Sarah Mckenzie & Kristie Carter
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Longitudinal studies specifically looking at the transition into parenthood and changes in mental health in the general population are scarce. This study aimed to investigate the impact of transition into parenthood on mental health and psychological distress using longitudinal survey data.

Methods: The analysis used three waves from the longitudinal Survey of Family, Income and Employment. Parenthood was classified as first time parent (first and only child <12 months at interview date), subsequent parent (child <12 months and other children in the family), existing parent (no children <12 months but other existing children in the family) and not a parent. We used fixed effects generalised linear modelling, controlling for all time-invariant and time-varying sources of confounding in a sample of 6670 adults within families.

Results: After adjusting for confounding from time-varying partner status, area deprivation, labour force status and household income, those who became first time parents reported an increase in mental health (β 1.22, 95% CI -0.06 to 2.50; mean=83.8, SD=14.1) and a decrease in psychological distress (β -0.70 95% CI -1.10 to -0.29; mean=13.4, SD=5.0). Subsequent parents reported a decrease in psychological distress (β -0.60 95% CI -0.95 to -0.24).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that a transition into parenthood for the first time leads to changes in mental health and psychological distress. Understanding the relationship between becoming a parent and mental health outcomes is important given that parental mental health is integral to effective parenting.


Mothers' Night Work and Children's Behavior Problems

Rachel Dunifon et al.
Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

Many mothers work in jobs with nonstandard schedules (i.e., schedules that involve work outside of the traditional 9-5, Monday through Friday schedule); this is particularly true for economically disadvantaged mothers. In the present article, we used longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Survey (n = 2,367 mothers of children ages 3-5 years) to examine the associations between maternal nonstandard work and children's behavior problems, with a particular focus on mothers' night shift work. We employed 3 analytic strategies with various approaches to adjusting for observed and unobserved selection factors; these approaches provided an upper and lower bound on the true relationship between night shift work and children's behavior. Taken together, the results provide suggestive evidence for modest associations between exposure to maternal night shift work and higher levels of aggressive and anxious or depressed behavior in children compared with children whose mothers who are not working, those whose mothers work other types of nonstandard shifts, and, for aggressive behavior, those whose mothers work standard shifts.


Adult well-being of foster care alumni: Comparisons to other child welfare recipients and a non-child welfare sample in a high-risk, urban setting

Joshua Mersky & Colleen Janczewski
Children and Youth Services Review, March 2013, Pages 367-376

Research has shown that children placed in foster care perform below population norms on many indicators of well-being. Yet few studies have been designed methodologically to distill the effects of foster care from conditions that precede foster care. Based on the available evidence, it is also uncertain whether the purported effects of foster care are lasting. This study used data gathered prospectively from a cohort of economically disadvantaged, urban dwelling participants to examine whether foster care is associated with decreased educational and economic attainments as well as increased criminality in adulthood. Individuals who were placed in foster care after an indicated allegation of maltreatment were compared to three naturally occurring groups: (a) maltreatment victims who did not reside in foster care, (b) individuals without an indicated maltreatment allegation who were raised in a household with a Child Protective Services (CPS) record, and (c) individuals without an individual or household record of CPS involvement. Using multiple estimation procedures, we found that all participants with a CPS record fared worse in adulthood than their peers without a CPS record. Despite their poor outcomes, foster children functioned as well as other CPS recipients who did not reside in foster care. Our findings indicate that caution is warranted when attributing dysfunction observed in foster children to the effects of foster care. Implications for prevention and intervention within the context of child welfare are discussed.


A Sibling Death in the Family: Common and Consequential

Jason Fletcher et al.
Demography, forthcoming

Although a large literature analyzes the determinants of child mortality and suggests policy and medical interventions aimed at its reduction, there is little existing analysis illuminating the consequences of child mortality for other family members. In particular, there is little evidence exploring the consequences of experiencing the death of a sibling on one's own development and transition to adulthood. This article examines the prevalence and consequences of experiencing a sibling death during one's childhood using two U.S. data sets. We show that even in a rich developed country, these experiences are quite common, affecting between 5 % and 8 % of the children with one or more siblings in our two data sets. We then show that these experiences are associated with important reductions in years of schooling as well as a broad range of adult socioeconomic outcomes. Our findings also suggest that sisters are far more affected than brothers and that the cause of death is an important factor in sibling effects. Overall, our findings point to important previously unexamined consequences of child mortality, adding to the societal costs associated with childhood mortality as well as suggesting additional benefits from policy and medical innovations aimed at curbing both such deaths and subsequent effects on family members.


Family Time Activities and Adolescents' Emotional Well-being

Shira Offer
Journal of Marriage and Family, February 2013, Pages 26-41

The literature is divided on the issue of what matters for adolescents' well-being, with one approach focusing on quality and the other on routine family time. Using the experience sampling method, a unique form of time diary, and survey data drawn from the 500 Family Study (N = 237 adolescents with 8,122 observations), this study examined the association between family time and adolescents' emotional well-being as a function of the type of activities family members engaged in during their time together. Hierarchical linear model analyses revealed that eating meals together was beneficial to adolescents' emotional well-being, especially when fathers were present. Family leisure was also beneficial to teens' well-being. By contrast, productive family time (e.g., homework) was associated with lower emotional well-being, as was maintenance family time (e.g., household chores), but only when adolescents engaged in it with both parents.


Functioning of families with primary school-age children conceived using anonymous donor sperm

G.T. Kovacs, S. Wise & S. Finch
Human Reproduction, February 2013, Pages 375-384

Study question: How do families with children conceived using donor sperm operate as the children grow up?

Summary answer: Families with children aged 5-13 years conceived through anonymous donor sperm function well, when compared with other family types with children of the same developmental stage.

Study design, size, duration: This study was an observational study comparing 79 ‘donor insemination' (DI) families with 987 ‘couple' families, 364 ‘single mother' and 112 ‘step-father' families as part of the Australian Institute of Family Studies Children and Family Life (CFL) study. CFL involved the collection of data on family functioning and child wellbeing from all resident parents through a Family and Child Questionnaire for the ‘primary' parent (FACQ-P1) and a Family Relationship Questionnaire (FRQ-P2) for the ‘other' parent.

Participants/materials, setting, methods: All questionnaires were coded with the identity known only to the researchers. The outcomes studied included parent psychological adjustment, family functioning, couple relationship, parenting and parent-child relationship. Family types were compared, separately for mothers' and fathers' reports. The results presented are the estimated means for each family type based on the final model for each outcome: post hoc comparisons between family types are reported with 95% confidence limits.

Main results and the role of chance: With all of the outcomes considered, there was not one result where the DI families showed poorer functioning on average than the comparison groups.

Wider implications of the findings: This study further reassures us that families conceived with anonymous donor sperm do not function any differently from other family types.


Order in the home: Family routines moderate the impact of financial hardship

Mia Budescu & Ronald Taylor
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, forthcoming

The study examined whether frequency of adolescent reported family routines moderated the relation between caregivers' perceptions of financial resources and adolescents' behavioral and academic outcomes among a sample of inner-city African American families. The sample consisted of 115 adolescents (average age = 15.95) and their female caregivers participating in a large scale study on African American family life. The results revealed a significant main effect of financial resources and family routine on adolescent outcomes, such that an increase in both was related to less delinquency and more favorable academic outcomes. Family routines moderated the relation between financial resources and adolescent outcomes. Specifically, the study revealed that the link between lack of financial resources and negative adolescent outcomes was diminished for youth in high-routine homes. Alternatively, family routines did not have a significant impact on youth from high-resource homes. Results highlight the importance of organization and predictability for economically disadvantaged youth and families.


Moderating Effects of Race on Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors among Children of Criminal Justice and Child Welfare Involved Mothers

Keva Miller & Lewis Bank
Children and Youth Services Review, forthcoming

This study examined whether the influences of multiple maternal criminal justice involvement (MCJI), community adversity, and violence exposure on children's internalizing and externalizing behaviors were moderated by race. The study included 409 children of criminal justice and child welfare involved mothers, ages 5-15 who participated in the National Survey on Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW). Results indicated that race, defined as Black vs. non-Black, moderated the associations between multiple MCJI and internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Decomposition of the regression effects indicated that non-Black children exposed to multiple MCJI, as compared to non-Black children who were not exposed to multiple MCJI, exhibited significant increases in both internalizing and externalizing behaviors, while Black children who experience multiple MCJI, on average, showed no increases. Similarly, race moderated the association between exposure to community adversity and externalizing behaviors. The decomposition of regression effects indicated that non-Black children who experienced higher levels of community adversity exhibited increases in externalizing behaviors, while Black children showed no increases. Criminal justice and child welfare practice and policy implications are discussed.


Testing Alternative Explanations for the Associations Between Parenting and Adolescent Suicidal Problems

Daria Boeninger, Katherine Masyn & Rand Conger
Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming

Although studies have established associations between parenting characteristics and adolescent suicidality, the strength of the evidence for these links remains unclear, largely because of methodological limitations, including lack of accounting for possible child effects on parenting. This study addresses these issues by using autoregressive cross-lag models with data on 802 adolescents and their parents across 5 years. Observed parenting behaviors predicted change in adolescent suicidal problems across 1-year intervals even after controlling for adolescents' effects on parenting. Nurturant-involved parenting continued to demonstrate salutary effects after controlling for adolescent and parent internalizing psychopathology: over time, observed nurturant-involved parenting reduced the likelihood of adolescent suicidal problems. This study increases the empirical support implicating parenting behaviors in the developmental course of adolescent suicidality.


The legacy of early experiences in development: Formalizing alternative models of how early experiences are carried forward over time

Chris Fraley, Glenn Roisman & John Haltigan
Developmental Psychology, January 2013, Pages 109-126

Psychologists have long debated the role of early experience in social and cognitive development. However, traditional approaches to studying this issue are not well positioned to address this debate. The authors present simulations that indicate that the associations between early experiences and later outcomes should approach different asymptotic values across time, given alternative assumptions about the developmental significance of early experience. To test the predictions of alternative developmental models, the authors examine data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) on maternal sensitivity in the first 3 years of life and its association with social competence and academic skills through age 15. Across multimethod, multi-informant outcome data, results suggest that there may be enduring effects of early caregiving experiences in both of these domains.


Diverging Destinies: Maternal Education and the Developmental Gradient in Time With Children

Ariel Kalil, Rebecca Ryan & Michael Corey
Demography, November 2012, Pages 1361-1383

Using data from the 2003-2007 American Time Use Surveys (ATUS), we compare mothers' (N = 6,640) time spent in four parenting activities across maternal education and child age subgroups. We test the hypothesis that highly educated mothers not only spend more time in active child care than less-educated mothers but also alter the composition of that time to suit children's developmental needs more than less-educated mothers. Results support this hypothesis: not only do highly educated mothers invest more time in basic care and play when youngest children are infants or toddlers than when children are older, but differences across education groups in basic care and play time are largest among mothers with infants or toddlers; by contrast, highly educated mothers invest more time in management activities when children are 6 to 13 years old than when children are younger, and differences across education groups in management are largest among mothers with school-aged children. These patterns indicate that the education gradient in mothers' time with children is characterized by a "developmental gradient."


The Interpersonal Legacy of a Positive Family Climate in Adolescence

Robert Ackerman et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

In this research, we evaluated how well overall levels of positive engagement in adolescents' families of origin, as well as adolescents' unique expressions of positive engagement in observed family interactions, statistically predicted marital outcomes approximately 20 years later. The sample consisted of 288 focal individuals and their spouses, drawn from the Iowa Youth and Families Project (IYFP). Data for focal individuals' family-of-origin positive engagement were taken from IYFP assessments from 1989 to 1991. Data for outcomes of interest, including focal individuals' and spouses' marital behavior, were drawn from the IYFP between 2007 and 2008. Individuals' unique expressions of positive engagement in their families of origin were linked to the degree of positive engagement these adolescents later exhibited toward their spouses. A positive family climate during adolescence for one marital partner was also associated with positive marital outcomes for both partners. Overall, our results suggest that the climate in one's family of origin may have long-term significance for one's interpersonal relationships.


The intergenerational transmission of conduct problems

Alessandra Raudino et al.
Social Psychiatry And Psychiatric Epidemiology, forthcoming

Purpose: Drawing on prospective longitudinal data, this paper examines the intergenerational transmission of childhood conduct problems in a sample of 209 parents and their 331 biological offspring studied as part of the Christchurch Health and Developmental Study. The aims were to estimate the association between parental and offspring conduct problems and to examine the extent to which this association could be explained by (a) confounding social/family factors from the parent's childhood and (b) intervening factors reflecting parental behaviours and family functioning.

Methods: The same item set was used to assess childhood conduct problems in parents and offspring. Two approaches to data analysis (generalised estimating equation regression methods and latent variable structural equation modelling) were used to examine possible explanations of the intergenerational continuity in behaviour.

Results: Regression analysis suggested that there was moderate intergenerational continuity (r = 0.23, p < 0.001) between parental and offspring conduct problems. This continuity was not explained by confounding factors but was partially mediated by parenting behaviours, particularly parental over-reactivity. Latent variable modelling designed to take account of non-observed common genetic and environmental factors underlying the continuities in problem behaviours across generations also suggested that parenting behaviour played a role in mediating the intergenerational transmission of conduct problems.

Conclusions: There is clear evidence of intergenerational continuity in conduct problems. In part this association reflects a causal chain process in which parental conduct problems are associated (directly or indirectly) with impaired parenting behaviours that in turn influence risks of conduct problems in offspring.


Child Care in Infancy and Cognitive Performance Until Middle Childhood in the Millennium Cohort Study

Sylvana Côté et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

This study used a British cohort (n = ∼13,000) to investigate the association between child care during infancy and later cognition while controlling for social selection and missing data. It was found that attending child care (informal or center based) at 9 months was positively associated with cognitive outcomes at age 3 years, but only for children of mothers with low education. These effects did not persist to ages 5 or 7 years. Early center-based care was associated with better cognitive outcomes than informal care at ages 3 and 5 years, but not at 7 years. Effect sizes were larger among children whose mother had low education. Propensity score matching and multiple imputation revealed significant findings undetected using regression and complete-case approaches.


Informal Child Support Contributions in Black Female-Headed Families

Terry-Ann Craigie
Review of Black Political Economy, June 2012, Pages 259-265

Key reforms to child support enforcement have aimed at increasing formal child support awards, levels and receipts. However, the role of child support contributions outside the formal child support system has been largely ignored. This study draws critical attention to these informal child support contributions, with chief focus on informal child support receipts of Black mothers. The study finds that Black mothers are significantly more likely to receive informal cash and in-kind child support contributions relative to other mothers, especially when non-resident fathers are also Black.


Differences in Beliefs and Behaviors Between Feminist Actual and Anticipated Mothers

Miriam Liss & Mindy Erchull
Psychology of Women Quarterly, forthcoming

The transition to parenthood has been linked to an increase in traditional attitudes and behaviors. The goal of our study was to determine whether feminist mothers differed from feminist non-mothers on attitudes and behaviors related to motherhood. Self-labeled feminist mothers (n = 344) and non-mothers who indicated that they wished to have children (n = 361; anticipated mothers) were asked about their feminist beliefs, their actual or expected division of labor after they had children, and actual or expected child surname choices. Results indicated that liberal feminist beliefs were higher among anticipated mothers. Liberal feminist beliefs with a focus on equality in the workplace may not be as salient to mothers. Cultural feminist beliefs, however, were higher among actual mothers. Cultural feminism, which focuses on valuing care, communal traits, and the role of women as mothers, may be particularly appealing to mothers. Additionally, feminist anticipated mothers expected a more egalitarian division of labor than feminist mothers actually experienced. Finally, feminist anticipated mothers expected to make significantly more nontraditional name choices for their children than feminist mothers actually made. Feminist women may experience social pressures that are unanticipated by women who are not yet mothers. The impact of cultural feminism on feminist motherhood is also discussed.


Inequality in Pupils' Test Scores: How Much do Family, Sibling Type and Neighbourhood Matter?

Cheti Nicoletti & Birgitta Rabe
Economica, forthcoming

We explore the relative influence of family and neighbourhood on pupils' test scores and how this varies by sibling type. Using English register data we find that the neighbourhood explains at most 10-15% of the variance in pupils' test scores, whereas the variance explained by family is between 44% and 54% at the end of primary school and between 47% and 61% at the end of compulsory schooling. The family influence is significantly higher for identical twins. It is also higher for dizygotic twins than for non-twin siblings brought up at different times and therefore experiencing varying family circumstances.


Another baby? Father involvement and childbearing in fragile families

Letitia Kotila, Claire Kamp Dush
Journal of Family Psychology, December 2012, Pages 976-986

An historic number of women in the United States have children outside of marriage, and with more than one father, yet little research has examined the association between family process and women's childbearing decisions. Using a subsample of unmarried women from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (n = 2028), a study of primarily low-income unmarried parents, we conducted discrete-time survival analysis models to predict whether women had another child with the focal child's father (same-father birth) or with a new father (new-father birth). Father involvement was measured by engagement, indirect care, accessibility, and financial support. Overall, mothers who reported greater engagement and indirect care from the focal child's father were more likely to have a same-father birth even when he was not living in her home, and were also less likely to have a new-father birth. Further, mothers who reported greater accessibility and stable financial support from the focal child's nonresident father were also less likely to have a new-father birth. One pathway through which this may have occurred was that single mothers who perceived less indirect care and accessibility from the focal child's nonresident father were more likely to begin new romantic relationships. Indeed, whether or not the mother had a new romantic partner partially mediated the association between indirect care and a same-father birth and fully mediated the association between accessibility and a new-father birth, suggesting that one pathway linking father involvement to a new-father birth was through maternal repartnering. Clinical and policy implications are discussed.


Is Relationship and Marriage Education Relevant and Appropriate to Child Welfare?

David Schramm et al.
Children and Youth Services Review, forthcoming

Child welfare professionals (CWPs) have historically been ignored as a potential delivery system of relationship and marriage education (RME). Based on a sample of 1015 CWPs from two states, the current study shows that CWPs believe promoting healthy couple and marital relationships is relevant to the families they serve and their work, and that they are open to receiving RME training. Results from structural equation modeling indicate that CWPs' beliefs about the relevancy and appropriateness of RME may be influenced by their current RME ability and comfort level, their beliefs about the state of marriage and the prevalence of couples in their current caseload of families they serve. Implications related to promoting RME within child welfare and engaging CWPs in RME training are discussed.


The Effects of Early Years' Childcare on Child Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties in Lone and Co-Parent Family Situations

Hannah Zagel et al.
Journal of Social Policy, forthcoming

With targeted childcare initiatives and welfare-to-work programmes policy-makers have sought to address employment activation of lone mothers and negative outcomes for children in lone parent households. The present study examines non-parental childcare use and maternal employment among children living in lone and co-parent family situations at ages three and four and emotional and behavioural difficulties at ages four and five. The results demonstrate that negative outcomes associated with lone motherhood are explained largely by mother's age, education, material circumstances and area deprivation; and that maternal employment does not relieve lone mothers' disadvantages in a way that alleviates the risks of difficulties to their children. However, in any family constellation, mainly group-based formal pre-school childcare does have a positive impact on child difficulties compared to drawing on informal childcare arrangements as main provider. In addition, and specifically for the difficulties of children in lone mother family situations, any non-parental childcare - formal or informal - for at least twenty-five hours per week is beneficial. Study findings support policy agendas which tackle families' material hardship beyond promoting mothers' employment, and through investment in formal childcare provision, and also through arrangements allowing lone mothers to divide their weekly load of childcare with another main provider.


Exposure to childhood neglect and physical abuse and developmental trajectories of heavy episodic drinking from early adolescence into young adulthood

Sunny Shin, Daniel Miller & Martin Teicher
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 1 January 2013, Pages 31-38

Background: Although the literature suggests that childhood maltreatment (CM) relates to adolescent heavy episodic drinking (HED), few studies have examined the long-term effects of CM on adolescent HED. This study is the first to examine associations between exposure to CM and trajectories of HED from adolescence to young adulthood for the US population.

Methods: Four waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were used. A total of 8503 adolescents followed from adolescence (7th-12th grades) into young adulthood (ages 24-32) were assessed on CM and past-year HED frequency. Using growth curve modeling, trajectories of adolescent HED were examined, with subtype, frequency, and severity of CM as the primary independent variables. All of our analyses controlled for common risk factors for adolescent HED, including demographics, parental and peer alcohol use, parental education and employment, family income, parent-child relationship, and adolescent depression.

Results: After controlling for potential risk factors, neglect and physical abuse, both individually and in conjunction, were associated with faster increases in HED during adolescence and persistently elevated HED over much of adolescence and young adulthood. The frequency of neglect and physical abuse, individually and in conjunction, was also associated with the trajectory of HED, such that additional instances of these types of maltreatment were associated with faster increases in HED during adolescence and higher rates of peak use during young adulthood.

Conclusion: Child neglect and physical abuse appear to have long-lasting adverse effects on HED beyond adolescence and throughout much of young adulthood.


Marital conflict and growth in children's internalizing symptoms: The role of autonomic nervous system activity

Mona El-Sheikh et al.
Developmental Psychology, January 2013, Pages 92-108

We assessed trajectories of children's internalizing symptoms, indexed through anxiety and depression, with a focus on the role of interactions between interparental marital conflict, children's sympathetic nervous system activity indexed by skin conductance level (SCL), and parasympathetic nervous system activity indexed by respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) as predictors of growth. Children participated in 3 waves of data collection with a 1-year lag between each wave. At T1, 128 girls and 123 boys participated (M age = 8.23 years; SD = 0.73). The most important findings reveal that girls with either low RSA in conjunction with low SCL (i.e., coinhibition) at baseline or with increasing RSA and decreasing SCL in response to a challenging task (i.e., reciprocal parasympathetic activation) are susceptible to high or escalating anxiety and depression symptoms, particularly in the context of marital conflict. Findings support the importance of concurrent examinations of environmental risk factors and physiological activity for better prediction of the development of anxiety and depression symptoms.


Association of Maltreatment With High-Risk Internet Behaviors and Offline Encounters

Jennie Noll et al.
Pediatrics, forthcoming

Objective: High-risk Internet behaviors, including viewing sexually explicit content, provocative social networking profiles, and entertaining online sexual solicitations, were examined in a sample of maltreated and nonmaltreated adolescent girls aged 14 to 17 years. The impact of Internet behaviors on subsequent offline meetings was observed over 12 to 16 months. This study tested 2 main hypotheses: (1) maltreatment would be a unique contributor to high-risk Internet behaviors and (2) high-quality parenting would dampen adolescents' propensity to engage in high-risk Internet behaviors and to participate in offline meetings.

Methods: Online and offline behaviors and parenting quality were gleaned from 251 adolescent girls, 130 of whom experienced substantiated maltreatment and 121 of whom were demographically matched comparison girls. Parents reported on adolescent behaviors and on the level of Internet monitoring in the home. Social networking profiles were objectively coded for provocative self-presentations. Offline meetings with persons first met online were assessed 12 to 16 months later.

Results: Thirty percent of adolescents reported having offline meetings. Maltreatment, adolescent behavioral problems, and low cognitive ability were uniquely associated with high-risk Internet behaviors. Exposure to sexual content, creating high-risk social networking profiles, and receiving online sexual solicitations were independent predictors of subsequent offline meetings. High-quality parenting and parental monitoring moderated the associations between adolescent risk factors and Internet behaviors, whereas use of parental control software did not.

Conclusions: Treatment modalities for maltreated adolescents should be enhanced to include Internet safety literacy. Adolescents and parents should be aware of how online self-presentations and other Internet behaviors can increase vulnerability for Internet-initiated victimization.

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