Parents and guardians

Kevin Lewis

December 30, 2018

The Effect of Sibship Size on Non-Cognitive Skills: Evidence from Natural Experiments
Jason Fletcher & Jinho Kim
Labour Economics, January 2019, Pages 36-43

A large literature has documented how families shape the developmental trajectories of children. While the formation of socio-emotional and non-cognitive traits, like personality, are driven by both genetic and environmental factors, much of the variation in these traits is unexplained. Economic and psychological models of personality formation suggest an important role for family interactions and dynamics, though much of the research has focused on parental time and financial resources and has not yet focused attention on the potential importance of sibling interactions. Siblings could have a negative effect on children's development if they are in competition for household resources but could have a positive effect if they provide opportunities for beneficial interactions, behavior modeling, and kin care. The net effect of these processes on children's personality development is an empirical question. We used data from Add Health to examine causal effects of having additional siblings on adult personality traits. We deploy two analytic aims within a “natural experiment” empirical design that use the birth of twins in the household to estimate sibling effects. Using both intent-to-treat and instrumental variables research designs we report large (0.5-1.5 standard deviation) differences in adult personality of those who have an additional younger sibling in the household during childhood. These differences likely create labor market and life course disadvantages for children with larger sibships.

The Labor Market Consequences of Teenage Childbearing
Mary Silles
Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming

This paper provides estimates of the impact of an unanticipated child during adolescence on labor supply and earnings using data for women who gave birth between 1976 and 2015 drawn from 1990 and 2000 censuses and the American Community Surveys. Twins at first birth are used as an instrument to avoid the problems of fertility endogeneity. Estimates from our instrumental variable models indicate that the arrival of a second‐born twin had severe economic consequences for adolescent women over most of our data.

Social Class, Gender, and Contemporary Parenting Standards in the United States: Evidence from a National Survey Experiment
Patrick Ishizuka
Social Forces, forthcoming

Social scientists have documented a substantial increase in both mothers’ and fathers’ time spent with children since the 1960s in the United States. Yet parenting behaviors remain deeply divided by social class and gender, with important implications for the reproduction of inequality. To understand rising parental investments in children and persistent class and gender differences in parenting, popular accounts and academic studies have pointed to an apparent cultural shift toward norms of time-intensive, child-centered parenting, particularly for mothers and among middle-class parents. However, prior research has produced inconclusive evidence relating to social class, gender, and contemporary parenting norms. Using data from an original vignette survey experiment conducted with a nationally representative sample of more than 3,600 parents, this study examines cultural norms related to parenting elementary school-aged children, considering how both social class and gender shape views about good parenting. Results indicate that parents of different social classes express remarkably similar support for intensive mothering and fathering across a range of situations, whether sons or daughters are involved. These findings suggest that cultural norms of child-centered, time-intensive mothering and fathering are now pervasive, pointing to high contemporary standards for parental investments in children.

Randomized control trial of an internet-based parenting intervention for mothers of infants
Edward Feil et al.
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, forthcoming

Early parenting home-visiting interventions have been found to be highly effective in promoting child development. Yet, there are many obstacles in the implementation of home-visiting programs, including travel and access to trained providers. Internet-based interventions can reach many parents of infants to overcome these barriers. The objective of this randomized control trial was to evaluate the impact of the Internet-adaptation of the Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) program, a preventive intervention program to strengthen effective parenting practices that promote early language, cognitive, and social development. Mothers in low-income environments (N = 164) of infants were randomized to either (a) an Internet-facilitated PALS parenting intervention or (b) an Internet-facilitated attention control condition. Measures included direct observations of maternal behavior with her infant, questionnaires about maternal functioning and parenting knowledge, and real-time program usage. Experimental participants demonstrated significantly greater increases in parenting knowledge and observed language-supportive parenting behaviors with a correlated positive change in infant language behaviors. Effects were pronounced when participants received a greater dosage of the intervention. Results suggest that the Internet-based translation of the PALS program is effective as a remotely delivered intervention for economically disadvantaged families to strengthen early parenting behaviors that promote infant social communication and child language development.

Who matters most? Social support, social strain, and emotions
Kayla Pierce & Christopher Quiroz
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, forthcoming

This research investigates the way in which social support and social strain stemming from spouses, children, and friends have different impacts on emotional states. While previous studies have compared the relative impact of different sources, our research builds upon these studies by (1) comparing various close network ties and (2) leveraging longitudinal data to investigate the causal links between support and strain from different sources and emotional states over time. We analyze individuals who have a spouse, a child, and friends across three waves of the Americans’ Changing Lives data. Although we find that social support and strain from all three sources are associated with emotional states, this relationship is not always causal. In the majority of cases, the same people who experience support or strain in their relationships are also more likely to experience more positive or negative emotional states, respectively. Only spousal interactions and child-based strain have a direct causal effect on emotional states.

Association of Friday School Report Card Release With Saturday Incidence Rates of Agency-Verified Physical Child Abuse
Melissa Bright et al.
JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective study reviewed calls to a state child abuse hotline and school report card release dates across a single academic year in Florida. Data were collected in a 265-day window from September 8, 2015, to May 30, 2016, in the 64 of 67 Florida counties with report card release dates available (16 960 days). Participants included all children aged 5 to 11 years for whom calls were made. A total of 1943 verified cases of physical abuse were reported in the study period in the 64 counties. Data were analyzed from October 2017 through May 2018.

Results: During the academic year, 167 906 calls came in to the child abuse hotline for children aged 5 to 11 years; 17.8% (n = 29 887) of these calls were suspected incidents of physical abuse, and 2017 (6.7%) of these suspected incidents were later verified as cases of physical abuse before excluding the 3 counties with no release dates available. Among the 1943 cases included in the analysis (58.9% males [n = 1145]; mean [SD] age, 7.69 [1.92] years), calls resulting in verified reports of child physical abuse occurred at a higher rate on Saturdays after a Friday report card release compared with Saturdays that do not follow a Friday report card release (IR ratio, 3.75; 95% CI, 1.21-11.63; P = .02). No significant association of report card release with IRs was found for any other days of the week.

Developing community structure on the sidelines: A social network analysis of youth sport league parents
Amy Chan Hyung Kim, Joshua Newman & Woong Kwon
Social Science Journal, forthcoming

The extant literature suggests that the formation of social networks within local communities may be linked to both positive (e.g., health, social well-being) and negative (e.g., social segregation or stratification) outcomes. In this study, we examine the social networks formed at the structural level by parents of community-based youth sport programs. Employing Quadratic Assignment Procedures t-test and Quadratic Assignment Procedures correlation, we empirically tested changes in recalled network density and homophily effects of parents (n = 391) at a community-level youth sport league located in the Southeastern USA. Our findings suggest that parents’ social networks significantly increased in density from pre- to post-season. However, while we found no significant homophily effects based on socioeconomic characteristics, we did observe significant racial homophily effects for participants in basketball and baseball/softball.

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