Kevin Lewis

December 11, 2012

Does "Tiger Parenting" Exist? Parenting Profiles of Chinese Americans and Adolescent Developmental Outcomes

Su Yeong Kim et al.
Asian American Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

"Tiger parenting," as described by Chua (2011, Battle hymn of the tiger mother. New York, NY: Penguin Press), has put parenting in Asian American families in the spotlight. The current study identified parenting profiles in Chinese American families and explored their effects on adolescent adjustment. In a three-wave longitudinal design spanning 8 years, from early adolescence to emerging adulthood, adolescents (54% female), fathers, and mothers from 444 Chinese American families reported on eight parenting dimensions (e.g., warmth and shaming) and six developmental outcomes (e.g., GPA and academic pressure). Latent profile analyses on the eight parenting dimensions demonstrated four parenting profiles: supportive, tiger, easygoing, and harsh parenting. Over time, the percentage of parents classified as tiger parents decreased among mothers but increased among fathers. Path analyses showed that the supportive parenting profile, which was the most common, was associated with the best developmental outcomes, followed by easygoing parenting, tiger parenting, and harsh parenting. Compared with the supportive parenting profile, a tiger parenting profile was associated with lower GPA and educational attainment, as well as less of a sense of family obligation; it was also associated with more academic pressure, more depressive symptoms, and a greater sense of alienation. The current study suggests that, contrary to the common perception, tiger parenting is not the most typical parenting profile in Chinese American families, nor does it lead to optimal adjustment among Chinese American adolescents.


Parental Earnings and Children's Well-Being: An Analysis of the Survey of Income and Program Participation Matched to Social Security Administration Earnings Data

Bhashkar Mazumder & Jonathan Davis
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

We estimate the association between parental earnings and child well-being using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation matched to Social Security Administration earnings records. We use very large samples on a wide variety of measures of child well-being that are also linked to long histories of parent earnings from administrative records. Consistent with previous studies, we find that the use of longer time averages of parent earnings leads to substantially higher estimated associations compared to using only a single year of parent earnings. Using 7-year time averages of parent earnings, we show, for example, that a doubling of parent earnings is associated with a reduced probability of a teenager reporting being in poor health by close to 50% and a decrease in the likelihood of a child repeating a grade by 39%. We also examine how the associations vary by the timing of when parental earnings are received during childhood. We find suggestive evidence that parental earnings received during the child's school-going years (ages 6 to 17) are more strongly associated with college enrollment and children's future earnings as adults than parent earnings received earlier or later in the child's life.


Spanking, Corporal Punishment and Negative Long-Term Outcomes: A Meta-Analytic Review of Longitudinal Studies

Christopher Ferguson
Clinical Psychology Review, forthcoming

Social scientists continue to debate the impact of spanking and corporal punishment (CP) on negative child outcomes including externalizing and internalizing behavior problems and cognitive performance. Previous meta-analytic reviews have mixed long-and short-term studies and relied on bivariate r, which may inflate effect sizes. The current meta-analysis focused on longitudinal studies, and compared effects using bivariate r and better controlled partial r coefficients controlling for time-1 outcome variables. Consistent with previous findings, results based on bivariate r found small but non-trivial long-term relationships between spanking/CP use and negative outcomes. Spanking and CP correlated .14 and .18 respectively with externalizing problems, .12 and .21 with internalizing problems and -.09 and -.18 with cognitive performance. However, when better controlled partial r coefficients (pr) were examined, results were statistically significant but trivial (at or below pr = .10) for externalizing (.07 for spanking, .08 for CP) and internalizing behaviors (.10 for spanking, insufficient studies for CP) and near the threshold of trivial for cognitive performance (- .11 for CP, insufficient studies for spanking). It is concluded that the impact of spanking and CP on the negative outcomes evaluated here (externalizing, internalizing behaviors and low cognitive performance) are minimal. It is advised that psychologists take a more nuanced approach in discussing the effects of spanking/CP with the general public, consistent with the size as well as the significance of their longitudinal associations with adverse outcomes.


Childlessness, parental mortality and psychiatric illness: A natural experiment based on in vitro fertility treatment and adoption

Esben Agerbo, Preben Bo Mortensen & Trine Munk-Olsen
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, forthcoming

Background: Childlessness increases the risk of premature mortality and psychiatric illness. These results might, however, be confounded by factors that affect both the chance of parenthood as well as the risk of premature death and psychiatric illness.

Methods: Using population-based health and social registers, we conducted a follow-up study of 21 276 childless couples in in vitro fertility treatment.

Results: The crude death rate ratio in women who become mothers to a biological child is 0.25 (95% CI 0.16 to 0.39). In other words, childless women experience a fourfold higher rate of death, that is, 4.02 (2.56 to 6.31). The analogous death rate in fathers is approximately halved: 0.51 (0.39 to 0.68) and 0.55 (0.32 to 0.96) associated with having a biological child and an adopted child, respectively. With substance use disorders being the exception, none of the crude rates of psychiatric illness in parents of a biological child were statistically distinguishable from the rates in the childless. These findings were slightly confounded by age, calendar year, income, education, somatic comorbidity and marital breakup.

Conclusions: Mindful that association is not causation, our results suggest that the mortality rates are higher in the childless. Rates of psychiatric illness do not appear to vary with childlessness, but the rate of psychiatric illness in parents who adopt is decreased.


Instrumental lying by parents in the US and China

Gail Heyman et al.
International Journal of Psychology, forthcoming

The practice of lying to one's children to encourage behavioral compliance was investigated among parents in the US (N = 114) and China (N = 85). The vast majority of parents (84% in the US and 98% in China) reported having lied to their children for this purpose. Within each country, the practice most frequently took the form of falsely threatening to leave a child alone in public if he or she refused to follow the parent. Crosscultural differences were seen: A larger proportion of the parents in China reported that they employed instrumental lie-telling to promote behavioral compliance, and a larger proportion approved of this practice, as compared to the parents in the US. This difference was not seen on measures relating to the practice of lying to promote positive feelings, or on measures relating to statements about fantasy characters such as the tooth fairy. Findings are discussed with reference to sociocultural values and certain parenting-related challenges that extend across cultures.


Testing Evolutionary Theories of Discriminative Grandparental Investment

Ralf Kaptijn et al.
Journal of Biosocial Science, forthcoming

This study tests two evolutionary hypotheses on grandparental investments differentiated by the child's sex: the paternity uncertainty hypothesis and the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. Data are from two culturally different countries: the Dutch Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (n=2375) and the Chinese Anhui Survey (n=4026). In the Netherlands, grandparental investments are biased towards daughters' children, which is in accordance with the paternity uncertainty hypothesis. But in China, grandparental investments are biased towards sons' children, which is in conflict with the paternity uncertainty hypothesis. This study found no support for the Trivers-Willard hypothesis. These results raise doubts over the relevance of paternity uncertainty as an explanation of a grandparental investment bias towards daughters' children that is often found in Western populations. The results suggest that discriminative grandparental investments are better understood as the outcome of cultural prescriptions and economic motives.


Father's Incarceration and Youth Delinquency and Depression: Examining Differences by Race and Ethnicity

Raymond Swisher & Michael Roettger
Journal of Research on Adolescence, December 2012, Pages 597-603

This article examines associations between biological father's incarceration and internalizing and externalizing outcomes of depression and serious delinquency, across White, Black, and Hispanic subsamples of youth in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Among respondents whose father was first incarcerated during childhood or adolescence, father's incarceration is found to be associated with increased depression and delinquency. On the whole, results indicate that associations between father's incarceration and depression and delinquency do not vary by race and ethnicity or gender. One exception is among Hispanic respondents, for whom having a biological father incarcerated is associated with an even higher propensity of delinquency than among White and Black respondents with incarcerated fathers.


Parental Divorce, Parental Religious Characteristics, and Religious Outcomes in Adulthood

Jeremy Uecker & Christopher Ellison
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, December 2012, Pages 777-794

Parental divorce has been linked to religious outcomes in adulthood. Previous research, however, has not adequately accounted for parental religious characteristics, which may render the association spurious and/or moderate the relationship. Many studies also do not consider subsequent family context, namely, whether one's custodial parent remarries. Using pooled data from three waves of the General Social Survey, we examine the nature of the relationships among parental divorce, subsequent family structure, and religiosity in adulthood. Growing up in a single-parent family - but not a stepparent family - is positively associated with religious disaffiliation and religious switching and negatively associated with regular religious service attendance. Accounting for parental religious characteristics, however, explains sizable proportions of these relationships. In fact, after accounting for parental religious affiliation and service attendance, growing up with a single parent does not have a significant effect on religious service attendance. Parental religiosity also moderates the relationship between growing up with a single parent and religious service attendance: being raised in a single-parent home does have a negative effect on religious service attendance among adults who had two religiously involved parents. There is modest evidence of this moderating relationship for other religious outcomes. Implications of these findings are discussed.


Maternal Education, Home Environments, and the Development of Children and Adolescents

Pedro Carneiro, Costas Meghir & Matthias Parey
Journal of the European Economic Association, forthcoming

We study the intergenerational effects of maternal education on children's cognitive achievement, behavioral problems, grade repetition, and obesity, using matched data from the female participants of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79) and their children. We address the endogeneity of maternal schooling by instrumenting it with variation in schooling costs during the mother's adolescence. Our results show substantial intergenerational returns to education. Our data set allows us to study a large array of channels which may transmit the effect of maternal education to the child, including family environment and parental investments at different ages of the child. We discuss policy implications and relate our findings to the literature on intergenerational mobility.


Explaining the Early Development and Health of Teen Mothers' Children

Stefanie Mollborn & Jeff Dennis
Sociological Forum, December 2012, Pages 1010-1036

The transmission of social disadvantage from teenage mothers to their children is well established, but when and why do these disparities emerge in the early life course? Using nationally representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, this study investigated the relationship between teen childbearing and children's cognition, behavior, and health from infancy through preschool. Developmental disparities between teenage mothers' children and others were largely nonexistent at nine months but accumulated with age. Having a teenage mother predicted compromised development across several domains by age four and a half. Our conceptual model expected preexisting disadvantage, ongoing resource disadvantage, and compromised parenting quality to explain the association between teen childbearing and child outcomes. Preexisting social disadvantage accounted for much of this relationship. Financial, social, and material resources in the child's household partially or fully explained each of the remaining significant relationships between teenage childbearing and child outcomes. Parenting quality explained a smaller proportion of these relationships than did resources, and these factors' influences were largely independent. Because children of teenage mothers with a modest set of resources were not predicted to have compromised development, resources provided in early childhood may have the potential to reduce developmental disparities for teenage mothers' children.


Breastfeeding and brain structure in adolescence

Salomi Kafouri et al.
International Journal of Epidemiology, forthcoming

Background: The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate an association between duration of exclusive breastfeeding and structure of cortical regions implicated in general intelligence.

Methods: We studied adolescents (n = 571; aged 12-18 years) participating in the Saguenay Youth Study; half of the participants were exposed to maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy. Hierarchical linear modelling was used to assess whether breastfeeding is an important predictor of cortical thickness when other predictors, such as age, sex, parental education and exposure to maternal smoking during pregnancy, are also considered. Target cortical regions were identified using a meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies of cognitive abilities relevant for general intelligence.

Results: We found that duration of exclusive breastfeeding was associated with cortical thickness in the superior and inferior parietal lobules (t = 2.31, P = 0.02). We also replicated the association between breastfeeding and general intelligence (t = 2.69, P = 0.008).

Conclusion: In this study, we showed that breastfeeding is associated with variations in the thickness of the parietal cortex in a community-based sample of adolescents. We also found association of breastfeeding duration with full scale and performance IQ, as observed previously.


Foster Mother-Infant Bonding: Associations Between Foster Mothers' Oxytocin Production, Electrophysiological Brain Activity, Feelings of Commitment, and Caregiving Quality

Johanna Bick et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

This study examined the biological processes associated with foster mother-infant bonding. In an examination of foster mother-infant dyads (N = 41, mean infant age = 8.5 months), foster mothers' oxytocin production was associated with their expressions of behavioral delight toward their foster infant and their average P3 response to images of all infant faces in the first 2 months of the relationship. Three months later, foster mothers' oxytocin production was still associated with delight toward their foster infant and was also specifically associated with their P3 response to an image of their foster infant. Similar to biologically related mothers and infants, oxytocin appears to be associated with foster mothers' brain activity and caregiving behavior, with patterns suggestive of bond formation.


Homeownership, Neighbourhood Characteristics and Children's Positive Behaviours among Low- and Moderate-income Households

Michal Grinstein-Weiss et al.
Urban Studies, December 2012, Pages 3545-3563

Using data on low-to-moderate-income households in the US Community Advantage Program survey, this paper examines homeownership, neighbourhood characteristics and the interaction between the two on the positive behaviour of children from low- and moderate-income households. To control for potential selection bias and endogeneity problems, propensity score weighting and hierarchical regression are employed to tease apart the effects of homeownership, neighbourhood characteristics and their interaction on child positive behaviour. No effect is found of homeownership or neighbourhood characteristics on children's positive behaviour when the interaction between the two is not included in the model. However, homeownership was found to have a stronger positive effect on children's positive behaviour as neighbourhood population density increases and, at approximately 4000 persons per square mile (approximate population density of San Diego, CA), homeownership has a significant positive effect on children's overall scores on the positive behaviour scale.


Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes

James Heckman, Rodrigo Pinto & Peter Savelyev
NBER Working Paper, November 2012

A growing literature establishes that high quality early childhood interventions targeted toward disadvantaged children have substantial impacts on later life outcomes. Little is known about the mechanisms producing these impacts. This paper uses longitudinal data on cognitive and personality traits from an experimental evaluation of the influential Perry Preschool program to analyze the channels through which the program boosted both male and female participant outcomes. Experimentally induced changes in personality traits explain a sizable portion of adult treatment effects.


The Family and Medical Leave Act and the labor productivity of parents

Geoffrey Dunbar
Economics Letters, forthcoming

The Family and Medical and Leave Act of 1993 in the US expanded workplace provisions for leave-taking by working parents. In this note, I propose a method to estimate the effect of the FMLA on the productivity of working parents using variation in the labor share of income. I find that the FMLA increased parental productivity by an estimated 5 percentage points.


Parenting Styles, Socialization, and the Transmission of Political Ideology and Partisanship

Gregg Murray & Matthew Mulvaney
Politics & Policy, December 2012, Pages 1106-1130

While research has long shown that parents are first and foremost among the agents of political socialization, substantial evidence suggests there is a great deal of variation in the transmission of political values from parents to their children. This article attempts to explain some of this variation by examining how parenting style - as represented by the parent-child relational context in terms of dimensions of parental control and affect - affects the intergenerational transmission of political attributes. In particular, it evaluates how differences in parenting style influence the intergenerational transmission of political ideology and partisan identification. Findings based on original data collected from a sample of mother-offspring dyads show that differences in parenting styles play an important moderating role in the variable transmission of parental political values. Further, these results add a new dimension to the study of political socialization by demonstrating the role of parenting styles in the transmission of political values.


Collateral damage: The German food crisis, educational attainment and labor market outcomes of German post-war cohorts

Hendrik Jürges
Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Using the German 1970 census to study educational and labor market outcomes of cohorts born during the German food crisis after World War II, I document that those born between November 1945 and May 1946 have significantly lower educational attainment and occupational status than cohorts born shortly before or after. Several alternative explanations for this finding are tested. Most likely, a short spell of severe undernutrition around the end of the war has impaired intrauterine conditions in early pregnancies and resulted in long-term detriments among the affected cohorts. This conjecture is corroborated by evidence from Austria.


Are elder siblings helpers or competitors? Antagonistic fitness effects of sibling interactions in humans

Aïda Nitsch, Charlotte Faurie & Virpi Lummaa
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 7 January 2013

Determining the fitness consequences of sibling interactions is pivotal for understanding the evolution of family living, but studies investigating them across lifetime are lacking. We used a large demographic dataset on preindustrial humans from Finland to study the effect of elder siblings on key life-history traits. The presence of elder siblings improved the chances of younger siblings surviving to sexual maturity, suggesting that despite a competition for parental resources, they may help rearing their younger siblings. After reaching sexual maturity however, same-sex elder siblings' presence was associated with reduced reproductive success in the focal individual, indicating the existence of competition among same-sex siblings. Overall, lifetime fitness was reduced by same-sex elder siblings' presence and increased by opposite-sex elder siblings' presence. Our study shows opposite effects of sibling interactions depending on the life-history stage, and highlights the need for using long-term fitness measures to understand the selection pressures acting on sibling interactions.


Cooperative breeding and maternal energy expenditure among Aka foragers

Courtney Meehan, Robert Quinlan & Courtney Malcom
American Journal of Human Biology, forthcoming

Objectives: Previous research among foragers and theory suggests that nonmaternal caregivers offer essential assistance, which supports female reproduction and the costs associated with lengthy child development. Mothers' face trade-offs in energy allocation between work and childcare, particularly when mothers have an infant. These trade-offs likely have crucial impacts on the pace of reproduction and child health. Caregivers can help mothers with childcare or they can reduce a mother's nonchildcare workload. If caregivers assist mothers by substituting childcare, then maternal energy expenditure (EE) in other work activities should increase. If caregivers assist mothers by substituting labor, then maternal EE in work activities should decrease when caregivers are present.

Methods: Utilizing detailed, quantitative behavioral observations and EE data, we test these propositions with data from 28 Aka forager mothers with children <35 months old. We isolate paternal, grandmaternal, and other caregiver effects on maternal EE and childcare in multivariate analyses.

Results: Our results show that caregivers (largely grandmothers) significantly reduce mothers' work EE by as much 216 kcal across a 9-hour observation period, while fathers and juveniles appear to increase maternal EE. Direct childcare from grandmothers decreases maternal direct care by about one-to-one indicating a labor substitution. Direct childcare from fathers decreases maternal care by almost 4 to 1, resulting in a net reduction of total direct care from all caregivers.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that there are multiple pathways by which helpers offset maternal work/childcare trade-offs.


Siblings Are Special: Initial Test of a New Approach for Preventing Youth Behavior Problems

Mark Feinberg et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Purpose: A growing body of research documents the significance of siblings and sibling relationships for development, mental health, and behavioral risk across childhood and adolescence. Nonetheless, few well-designed efforts have been undertaken to promote positive and reduce negative youth outcomes by enhancing sibling relationships.

Methods: Based on a theoretical model of sibling influences, we conducted a randomized trial of Siblings Are Special (SIBS), a group-format afterschool program for fifth graders with a younger sibling in second through fourth grades, which entailed 12 weekly afterschool sessions and three Family Nights. We tested program efficacy with a pre- and post-test design with 174 families randomly assigned to condition. In home visits at both time points, we collected data via parent questionnaires, child interviews, and observer-rated videotaped interactions and teachers rated children's behavior at school.

Results: The program enhanced positive sibling relationships, appropriate strategies for parenting siblings, and child self-control, social competence, and academic performance; program exposure was also associated with reduced maternal depression and child internalizing problems. Results were robust across the sample, not qualified by sibling gender, age, family demographics, or baseline risk. No effects were found for sibling conflict, collusion, or child externalizing problems; we will examine follow-up data to determine if short-term impacts lead to reduced negative behaviors over time.

Conclusions: The breadth of the SIBS program's impact is consistent with research suggesting that siblings are an important influence on development and adjustment and supports our argument that a sibling focus should be incorporated into youth and family-oriented prevention programs.


Younger Age at First Childbirth Predicts Mothers' Lower Economic and Psychological Well-Being Later in Life

Bettina Casad et al.
Journal of Family and Economic Issues, December 2012, Pages 421-435

Age at first childbirth affects mothers' economic and psychological well-being later in life. Using a gender and power framework, two studies examined the associations among age at first childbirth, employment status, perceived choice, and race/ethnicity as predictors of economic and psychological well-being in a sample of middle class, married mothers (Study 1) and a nationally representative sample of married mothers (Study 2). Results indicated younger age at first childbirth is associated with less choice; lower educational attainment; lower SES; greater household labor; greater perceived chore discrepancy; lower self-esteem; less life, work, and relationship satisfaction; but is unrelated to depression or work stress. There were differences by employment status and minimal differences by race/ethnicity. The findings suggest that negative economic and psychological outcomes later in life are related to having one's first child at a younger age.

to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.