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Family Background, Family Income, Maternal Work and Child Development

This paper presents estimates of the effects of family background, family income and parental work - especially maternal employment - on the behavioural development of young children. The particular outcomes analysed are children's scores on development-assessment instruments measuring cognitive development (4- to 5-year-old), problematic behaviour and pro-social behaviour (4- to 11-year-old). These outcomes are interpreted as measures of certain key components of the "human capital" stock of Canadian children and their well-being. The analysis is based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, Cycle 1 (Human Resources and Development Canada, and Statistics Canada, release 2, 1998). The results suggest that maternal work has very small positive or insignificant effects on young children developmental outcomes. The empirical findings are that current income effects are very small for the average child. However, it is possible that they could be stronger for children in very poor families. The most important predictors of assessed scores are the personal characteristics of both family and parents. The public policy implications of the main findings are also discussed. Cette étude empirique présente les effets des caractéristiques familiales, du revenu familial et du travail des parents - en particulier celui des mères - sur le développement des jeunes enfants. Les indicateurs de développement analyses sont les scores obtenus par les enfants sur des échelles mesurant le développement cognitifs (enfants âgés de 4 et 5 ans) et certains comportements sociaux négatifs et positifs (enfants âgés de 4 à 11 ans). Ces scores sont interprétés commes des indices du "stock" de capital humain des enfants au Canada ainsi que de leur bien-être. L'analyse s'appuie sur des micro-données de l'Enquête nationale longitudinale sur les enfants et les jeunes réalisée conjointement par le ministère du Développement des ressources humaines du Canada et par Statistique Canada. Les résultats indiquent que le travail des mères a des effets légèrement positifs ou nuls sur les indicateurs de développement des enfants. Ils suggèrent aussi que le revenu familial a peu d'effet pour l'enfant canadien typique. Cependant, il est vraisemblable que l'effet du revenu familial soit plus important pour les enfants vivant dans une famille à très faible revenu. Les variables qui prédisent le mieux les indicateurs mesurés sont celles qui sont associées aux caractéristiques des parents et de la famille. Les implications des résultats pour la politique publique à l'egard des enfants sont discutées.

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Paper provided by CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal in its series Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers with number 78.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Aug 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:78
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  1. Martin D. Dooley, . "The Evolution of Welfare Participation Among Canadian Lone Mothers From 1973 ­ 1991," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 17, McMaster University.
  2. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
  3. Thomas, Duncan & Strauss, John, 1992. "Prices, infrastructure, household characteristics and child height," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 301-331, October.
  4. Sonalde Desai & P. Chase-Lansdale & Robert Michael, 1989. "Mother or Market? Effects of Maternal Employment on the Intellectual Ability of 4-Year-Old Children," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 545-561, November.
  5. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, July.
  6. Sanders Korenman & Christopher Winship, 1995. "A Reanalysis of The Bell Curve," NBER Working Papers 5230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. M. Anne Hill & June O'Neill, 1994. "Family Endowments and the Achievement of Young Children with Special Reference to the Underclass," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(4), pages 1064-1100.
  8. Shelley A. Phipps & Peter S. Burton, 1996. "Collective Models of Family Behaviour: Implications for Economic Policy," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 22(2), pages 129-143, June.
  9. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S143-62, August.
  10. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
  11. Garnett Picot & John Myles, 1996. "Social Transfers, Changing Family Structure and Low Income Among Children," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 22(3), pages 244-267, September.
  12. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1995. "Race, Children's Cognitive Achievement and The Bell Curve," NBER Working Papers 5240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-81, August.
  14. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 1998. "Work Schedules, Job Characteristics, Parenting Practices and Children's Outcomes," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 77, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  15. Datcher-Loury, Linda, 1988. "Effects of Mother's Home Time on Children's Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(3), pages 367-73, August.
  16. Heckman, James J, 1995. "Lessons from the Bell Curve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1091-1120, October.
  17. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  18. Leibowitz, Arleen, 1974. "Home Investments in Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S111-S131, Part II, .
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