Findings

Mommy and daddy

Kevin Lewis

August 02, 2016

Parenthood and Happiness: Effects of Work-Family Reconciliation Policies in 22 OECD Countries

Jennifer Glass, Robin Simon & Matthew Andersson

American Journal of Sociology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In contrast to widespread cultural beliefs that parenthood improves the health and happiness of adults, research finds that parents report lower levels of emotional well-being than non-parents in many developed countries. However, we currently do not know whether the parenthood penalty in personal happiness is smaller in economically advanced countries where public policies intended to reduce the stress associated with parenthood are more generous. Drawing on Link and Phelan's (1995) argument about social conditions as fundamental causes of health inequalities, we examine whether the disparity in happiness between parents and nonparents is smaller in countries that provide more resources and social support to families than in countries that provide less assistance. Our analyses reveal that the parenthood gap in happiness is greater in the U.S. than in the other 21 OECD countries in our sample; they also indicate that larger disparities in happiness between parents and non-parents are due to less generous family policies, especially subsidized child care and paid leave. Our results shed light on macro-level causes of micro-level emotional processes and have important implications for public policy.

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Red Parents, Blue Parents: The Politics of Modern Parenthood

Laurel Elder & Steven Greene

The Forum, July 2016, Pages 143-167

Abstract:
Over the past several decades the major parties in the US have not only politicized parenthood, but have come to offer increasingly polarized views of the ideal American family. This study builds on recent scholarship exploring the political impact of parenthood (e.g. Elder, Laurel, and Steven Greene. 2012a. The Politics of Parenthood: Causes and Consequences of the Politicization and Polarization of the American Family. Albany, NY: SUNY Press; Greenlee, Jill. 2014. The Political Consequences of Motherhood. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.) by comparing Republican and Democratic parents in terms of family structure as well as attitudes about parental roles and child rearing. This study draws on a fairly unique data set, the Pew Research Center's Gender and Generations Survey, as well as more traditional data sets, to further our understanding of the politics of modern parenthood in the United States. We find that the starkly contrasted red families versus blue families painted in some research and news commentary does not hold up when examined with individual level data. On average, Republican and Democratic parents start their families at the same age and have the same number of kids. And despite the parties' polarized messages about the ideal family structure, Republican moms are just as likely to be working as Democratic moms. Where partisanship does divide red and blue families is on attitudes about working mothers and perhaps most interestingly, when it comes to the way men conceptualize their roles and performance as fathers. Democratic dads possess more egalitarian attitudes about parenting and less authoritarian attitudes about child-rearing, and, perhaps because they expect more from themselves as care-givers, they struggle more with work-family balance and are less satisfied with themselves as parents. In contrast, Republican fathers embrace more traditional views about parenting and parental authority and rate themselves more highly as parents. This study concludes by exploring the implications of the politics of modern parenthood for the 2016 presidential election and beyond.

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The Effects of Aggregate and Gender-Specific Labor Demand Shocks on Child Health

Marianne Page, Jessamyn Schaller & David Simon

NBER Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
In this paper, we estimate the relationship between cyclical changes in aggregate labor market opportunities and child health outcomes. In addition to using state unemployment rates to proxy for labor market conditions, as is common in the existing literature, we construct predicted employment growth indices that allow us to separately identify demand-induced changes in labor market opportunities for fathers and mothers. In contrast with prominent studies of adult health, we find no evidence that negative shocks to general economic conditions are associated with improvements in contemporaneous measures of children's health. We do find, however, that focusing on gender-inclusive economic variables obscures the extent to which the labor market affects children. Specifically, we find evidence that improvements in labor market conditions facing women are associated with worse child health, while improvements in men's labor market conditions have smaller positive effects on child health. These patterns, which are consistent with previous findings on the effects of individual parental employment and job displacement, suggest that family income and maternal time use are both important mechanisms mediating the effects of aggregate labor market conditions on child health.

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Fathers' Decline In Testosterone And Synchrony With Partner Testosterone During Pregnancy Predicts Greater Postpartum Relationship Investment

Darby Saxbe et al.

Hormones and Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract:
The transition to parenthood has been associated with declines in testosterone among partnered fathers, which may reflect males' motivation to invest in the family. Moreover, preliminary evidence has found that couples show correlations in hormone levels across pregnancy that may also be linked to fathers' preparation for parenthood. The current study used repeated-measures sampling of testosterone across pregnancy to explore whether fathers' change in T, and correlations with mothers' T, were associated with fathers' and mothers' postpartum investment. In a sample of 27 couples (54 individuals) expecting their first child, both parents' salivary testosterone was measured multiple times across pregnancy. At approximately 3.5 months postpartum, participants rated their investment, commitment, and satisfaction with their partner. A multilevel model was used to measure change in testosterone over time and associations between mother and father testosterone. Fathers who showed stronger declines in T across pregnancy, and stronger correlations with mothers' testosterone, reported higher postpartum investment, commitment, and satisfaction. Mothers reported more postpartum investment and satisfaction if fathers showed greater prenatal declines in T. These results held even after controlling for paternal investment, commitment, and satisfaction measured prenatally at study entry. Our results suggest that changes in paternal testosterone across pregnancy, and hormonal linkage with the pregnant partner, may underlie fathers' dedication to the partner relationship across the transition to parenthood.

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Jealousy Protest: Ontogeny in Accord With the 9-Month Period of Human Gestation

Sybil Hart

Evolutionary Psychology, May 2016

Abstract:
In this article, nascent jealousy's ultimate foundation is theorized as an adapted psychological mechanism that evolved in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA) to prepare 1-year-olds for defending against premature weaning upon the closely spaced birth of a sibling. This position rests on evidence that nascent jealousy is expressed through jealousy protest, a constellation of caregiver-directed protests and bids for exclusive attention, and evidence that its onset occurs at approximately 9 months of age. Given that the period of human gestation is 9 months, we propose that jealousy protest's form and timing were compelled by the possibility that the end of an infant's first year could be met by competition with a newborn sibling. That possibility placed infants at risk of malnutrition and mortality due to entailing the loss of exclusive access to mother's milk, while infants were at an age when they were still heavily reliant on breast milk for survival. At this juncture, threat posed by the birth of a sibling was compounded by conditions of the EEA, where the sole viable source of breast milk was an infant's mother, and her supply of milk was sufficient for sustaining only one child at a time. We conclude by offering suggestions for future research and discuss implications for the theory of parent-offspring conflict as a foundation of adaptations in children.

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Parental monitoring and knowledge: Testing bidirectional associations with youths' antisocial behavior

Jasmin Wertz et al.

Development and Psychopathology, August 2016, Pages 623-638

Abstract:
In the present study, we used separate measures of parental monitoring and parental knowledge and compared their associations with youths' antisocial behavior during preadolescence, between the ages of 10 and 12. Parental monitoring and knowledge were reported by mothers, fathers, and youths taking part in the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study that follows 1,116 families with twins. Information on youths' antisocial behavior was obtained from mothers as well as teachers. We report two main findings. First, longitudinal cross-lagged models revealed that greater parental monitoring did not predict less antisocial behavior later, once family characteristics were taken into account. Second, greater youth antisocial behavior predicted less parental knowledge later. This effect of youths' behavior on parents' knowledge was consistent across mothers', fathers', youths', and teachers' reports, and robust to controls for family confounders. The association was partially genetically mediated according to a Cholesky decomposition twin model; youths' genetically influenced antisocial behavior led to a decrease in parents' knowledge of youths' activities. These two findings question the assumption that greater parental monitoring can reduce preadolescents' antisocial behavior. They also indicate that parents' knowledge of their children's activities is influenced by youths' behavior.

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Estimating the Technology of Children's Skill Formation

Francesco Agostinelli & Matthew Wiswall

NBER Working Paper, July 2016

Abstract:
We develop a new estimator for the process of children's skill formation in which children's skills endogenously develop according to a dynamic latent factor structure. Rather than assuming skills are measured perfectly by a particular measure, we accommodate the variety of skills measures used in practice and allow latent skills to be measured with error using a system of arbitrarily located and scaled measures. For commonly estimated production technologies, which already have a known location and scale, we prove non-parametric identification of the primitive production function parameters. We treat the parameters of the measurement model as "nuisance" parameters and use transformations of moments of the measurement data to eliminate them, analogous to the data transformations used to eliminate fixed effects with panel data. We develop additional, empirically grounded, restrictions on the measurement process that allow identification of more general production technologies, including those exhibiting Hicks neutral total factor productivity (TFP) dynamics and non-constant returns to scale. We use our identification results to develop a sequential estimation algorithm for the joint dynamic process of investment and skill development, correcting for the biases due to measurement error in skills and investment. Using data for the United States, we estimate the technology of skill formation, the process of parental investments in children, and the adult distribution of completed schooling and earnings, allowing the production technology and investment process to freely vary as the child ages. Our estimates of high TFP and increasing returns to scale at early ages indicate that investments are particularly productive at these ages. We find that the marginal productivity of early investments is substantially higher for children with lower existing skills, suggesting the optimal targeting of interventions to disadvantaged children. Our estimates of the dynamic process of investment and skill development allow us to estimate heterogeneous treatment effects of policy interventions. We show that even a modest transfer of family income to families at ages 5-6 would substantially increase children's skills, completed schooling, and adult earnings, with the effects largest for low income families.

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The Long-Term Effects of Caregiving on Women's Health and Mortality

Jennifer Caputo, Eliza Pavalko & Melissa Hardy

Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Caregivers experience numerous mental and physical health effects from the stress of providing care, but we know little about whether these problems persist in the long term and whether long-term effects differ across caregiving contexts. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Mature Women, we examined the relationship between caregiving and long-term patterns of depressive symptoms, functional limitations, and mortality. We also explored the health effects of caregiving in-home versus out-of-home and by caregiver/care-recipient relationship. Analyses show that in-home spousal and parental caregiving predict increased depressive symptoms and functional limitations in the long term but are unassociated with mortality, whereas caregiving outside the home is unassociated with later depression and functional limitations but predicts a lower risk of mortality. This study highlights the usefulness of approaching stressful experiences such as caregiving from the life course perspective, viewing them as processes that unfold over time within specific contexts that may carry delayed or cumulative consequences.

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Fathers' Investments of Money and Time Across Residential Contexts

Marcia Carlson, Alicia VanOrman & Kimberly Turner

Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
Fathers' roles in family life have changed dramatically over the past 50 years. In addition to ongoing breadwinning responsibilities, many fathers are now involved in direct caregiving and engagement with children. Yet there is considerable variation in what fathers do, especially depending on whether they live with or away from their child. In this article, the authors use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 3,869) to describe how fathers' economic capacities (money) and direct involvement with children (time) are associated over child ages 1 to 9 for resident versus nonresident fathers, net of confounding factors. They found suggestive evidence that money and time investments operate differently across residential contexts: Resident fathers experience a trade-off between market work and time involved with children. In contrast, nonresident fathers' higher economic capacities are associated with more time involvement, underscoring the greater challenge for such fathers to remain actively involved.

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At-Home Father Families in the United States: Gender Ideology, Human Capital, and Unemployment

Karen Kramer & Amit Kramer

Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Abstract:
The rising population of stay-at-home fathers is driven by economic conditions, human capital, and changing gender ideology. When unemployment rates increase, women become breadwinners in these families. The growing gender education gap is a crucial factor in spousal work and caregiving arrangements. The authors test these propositions by tracking individuals using data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth and the Current Population Survey. They find that unemployment rates are associated with having both caregiving and unable-to-work stay-at-home father families and that the probability that households choose stay-at-home father arrangements is greater when mothers have more education than fathers. Finally, individual differences in gender ideology have strong effects on the probability that families choose a caregiving stay-at-home father family structure.

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Child Welfare Supervised Children's Participation in Center-based Early Care and Education

Sacha Klein, Darcey Merritt & Susan Snyder

Children and Youth Services Review, September 2016, Pages 80-91

Abstract:
Research suggests that early care and education (ECE) services, particularly center-based ECE, may help prevent child maltreatment and also mitigate some of the negative developmental outcomes associated with child maltreatment. There is also preliminary evidence to suggest that ECE could reduce the likelihood that maltreatment allegations will be substantiated by child welfare authorities and/or result in children being placed in out-of-home care. However, little is known about rates of ECE participation among children receiving child welfare services, nor the factors that determine ECE participation for this population. Data from the first wave of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing II, a nationally representative sample of children referred to the United States (U.S.) child welfare system (CWS) for suspected maltreatment, were used to measure the frequency with which 0-5 year olds participate in center-based ECE. Additionally, logistic regression analyses explored the effects of maltreatment type, substantiation, and children's living arrangements (i.e., with parents, relatives, or foster parents) on this outcome, controlling for a range of child and family covariates associated with ECE participation in the general population. Results indicate that less than a third of 0-5 year olds receiving child welfare services in the U.S. are participating in center-based ECE. Among the various categories of maltreatment type measured, being reported to the CWS for suspected physical abuse was associated with decreased odds of center-based ECE participation; however, other types of maltreatment, substantiation, and living arrangement were unrelated to center-based ECE participation. These findings suggest that, despite recent efforts by the U.S. federal government to promote ECE participation for CWS-supervised children, the vast majority of young children in the U.S. CWS are not receiving center-based ECE, and physically abused children are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to accessing these services.


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