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Family Background, Family Income, Maternal Work and Child Development

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Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 1998. "Family Background, Family Income, Maternal Work and Child Development," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 78, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  • Handle: RePEc:cre:crefwp:78
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    13. 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;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(4), pages 545-561, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre Merrigan & Philip Lefebvre, 2002. "The Effect of Childcare and Early Education Arrangements on Developmental Outcomes of Young Children," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(2), pages 159-185, June.
    2. Corak, Miles, 2001. "Les enfants se portent-ils bien ? Mobilite intergenerationnelle et bien-etre de l'enfant au Canada," Direction des etudes analytiques : documents de recherche 2001171f, Statistics Canada, Direction des etudes analytiques.
    3. Massimiliano BRATTI, 2002. "Parents' Current Income, Long-term Characteristics and Children's Education: Evidence from the 1970 British Cohort," Working Papers 174, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
    4. Bratti, Massimiliano, 2002. "Parents’ Current Income, Long-Term Characteristics And Children’S Education : Evidence From The 1970 British Cohort Study," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 658, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    5. Joann Wilkie, 2007. "The role of education in enhancing intergenerational income mobility," Economic Roundup, The Treasury, Australian Government, issue 4, pages 81-100, December.
    6. Nordblom, Katarina, 2003. "Is increased public schooling really a policy for equality?: The role of within-the-family education," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1943-1965, September.
    7. Miles Corak, 2001. "Are the Kids All Right? Intergenerational Mobility and Child Well-being in Canada," The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress,in: Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director & France St-Hilaire, Vice-President , Research & Keith Banting, Di (ed.), The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress 2001: The Longest Decade: Canada in the 1990s, volume 1 Centre for the Study of Living Standards;The Institutute for Research on Public Policy.
    8. 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.
    9. Anna Christina D'Addio, 2007. "Intergenerational Transmission of Disadvantage: Mobility or Immobility Across Generations?," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 52, OECD Publishing.
    10. Juliana Guimarães & Breno Sampaio, 2013. "Family background and students’ achievement on a university entrance exam in Brazil," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 38-59, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cognitive skills; problematic behaviours and pro-social behaviour; prental employment; family structure; low-income families; policy implications;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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