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The role of parental investments for cognitive and noncognitive skill formation—Evidence for the first 11 years of life

  • Coneus, Katja
  • Laucht, Manfred
  • Reuß, Karsten
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    This paper examines the impact of parental investments on the development of cognitive, mental and emotional skills during childhood using data from a longitudinal study, the Mannheim Study of Children at Risk, starting at birth. Our work offers three important innovations. First, we use reliable measures of the child's cognitive, mental and emotional skills as well as accurate measures of parental investments. The observed investments include parental health behaviour, playing and talking with the child, play materials, leisure activities and others. Second, we estimate latent factor models to account for unobserved characteristics of children. Third, we examine the skill development for girls and boys separately, as well as for children who were born with either organic or psychosocial risk. We find a decreasing impact of parental investments on cognitive and mental skills over time, while emotional skills seem to be unaffected by parental investments in childhood. Thus, inequality at birth persists during childhood. Since families are the main sources of education during the first years of life, our results have important implications for the quality of the parent–child relationship. Improving maternal health during pregnancy and parental investments in infancy can yield large benefits for cognitive and mental development later in childhood.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570677X11000062
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

    Volume (Year): 10 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 189-209

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:10:y:2012:i:2:p:189-209
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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    1. Pedro Carneiro & Claire Crawford & Alissa Goodman, 2007. "The Impact of Early Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills on Later Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers 0092, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    2. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 12840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," Working Papers 200718, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    4. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance John & Masterov, Dimitriy V., 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 1675, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2009. "The Economics and Psychology of Inequality and Human Development," Working Papers 200934, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    7. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Susanne Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 15664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Laucht, Manfred & Coneus, Katja & Blomeyer, Dorothea & Pfeiffer, Friedhelm, 2008. "Initial Risk Matrix, Home Resources, Ability Development and Children's Achievement," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-100, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    9. Philip Oreopoulos & Mark Stabile & Randy Walld & Leslie L. Roos, 2008. "Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Consequences of Poor Infant Health: An Analysis Using Siblings and Twins," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
    10. James J. Heckman, 2008. "Schools, Skills, And Synapses," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(3), pages 289-324, 07.
    11. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2009. "The Economics & Psychology of Inequality and Human Development," Working Papers 200905, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    12. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Mårten Palme, 2009. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1729-1772, November.
    13. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    14. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm P. & Heckman, James J. & Tremblay, Richard E., 2009. "Investing in early human development: Timing and economic efficiency," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-6, March.
    15. Blomeyer, Dorothea & Coneus, Katja & Laucht, Manfred & Pfeiffer, Friedhelm, 2008. "Self-Productivity and Complementarities in Human Development: Evidence from the Mannheim Study of Children at Risk," IZA Discussion Papers 3734, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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