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Maternal Education, Parental Investment and Non-Cognitive Characteristics in Rural China

Author

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  • Leight, Jessica

    () (American University)

  • Liu, Elaine M.

    () (University of Houston)

Abstract

The importance of non-cognitive skills in determining long-term human capital and labor market outcomes is widely acknowledged, but relatively little is known about how educational investments by parents may respond to children’s non-cognitive characteristics. This paper evaluates the parental response to non-cognitive variation across siblings in rural Gansu province, China, employing a household fixed effects specification; the non-cognitive measures of interest are defined as the inverse of both externalizing challenges (behavioral problems and aggression) and internalizing challenges (anxiety and withdrawal). The results suggest that there is significant heterogeneity with respect to maternal education. More educated mothers appear to compensate for differences between their children, investing more in a child who exhibits greater non-cognitive deficits, while less educated mothers reinforce these differences. Most importantly, there is evidence that these compensatory investments are associated with the narrowing of non-cognitive deficits over time for children of more educated mothers, while there is no comparable pattern in households with less educated mothers.

Suggested Citation

  • Leight, Jessica & Liu, Elaine M., 2018. "Maternal Education, Parental Investment and Non-Cognitive Characteristics in Rural China," IZA Discussion Papers 11607, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11607
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard Akresh & Emilie Bagby & Damien de Walque & Harounan Kazianga, 2012. "Child Ability and Household Human Capital Investment Decisions in Burkina Faso," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(1), pages 157-186.
    2. Glewwe, Paul & Huang, Qiuqiong & Park, Albert, 2017. "Cognitive skills, noncognitive skills, and school-to-work transitions in rural China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 141-164.
    3. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    4. Gelber, Alexander & Isen, Adam, 2013. "Children's schooling and parents' behavior: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 25-38.
    5. Paul Frijters & David Johnston & Manisha Shah & Michael Shields, 2013. "Intrahousehold Resource Allocation: Do Parents Reduce or Reinforce Child Ability Gaps?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(6), pages 2187-2208, December.
    6. 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.
    7. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    non-cognitive characteristics; parental investment; intrahousehold allocation;

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation

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