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Mothers, Maids and Tutors: An Empirical Evaluation of their Effect on Children's Academic Grades in Singapore

Listed author(s):
  • Roland Cheo
  • Euston Quah

As female labour force participation in the workforce increases in Singapore, the basic economic unit—the home—has become wealthier, although arguably at the expense of both personal and family leisure. Yet with additional income, breadwinners are better able to undertake investment for their own well-being or their children's well-being that can offset the net loss of utility associated with less leisure. Concomitantly, it is common to find a domestic helper living with a Singapore family and other specialist helpers such as paid home tutors, who come to the home. This paper examines how this new investment vis-a-vis new home variables affects a child's overall academic performance. Primarily, the effects of a mother's choice to work, the presence of either tutors or domestic helpers and the effects of different investment strategies to raise a child's qualitative attributes. The paper asserts that how a child performs academically is less dependent on his/her choice of time use; rather, it is the number of qualitative benefits the child receives in the home environment. The conventional wisdom of 'the more the better' is questioned by the results of this study, arguing instead that diminishing returns set in far quicker when over-investment in the child takes place.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Education Economics.

Volume (Year): 13 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 269-285

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Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:13:y:2005:i:3:p:269-285
DOI: 10.1080/09645290500073746
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