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Family Impacts on Cognitive Development of Young Children: Evidence from Australia

This paper investigates the manner and extent to which family structure impacts upon the cognitive development of young Australian children. Our methodology draws on the standard household production model of Becker but also includes control variables emphasised by parental investment and good-parent theories of child development. We use data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) and from the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) in cross sectional, panel, instrumental variables and fixed-effects analyses. Our results suggest that the large negative effects initially associated with single parent families disappear when child characteristics and parental preferences for education are controlled for. On the other hand parental completion of Year 12 education, ‘warm’ parent-child interactions, a stress-free home environment and positive parental aspirations for their children are persistently strong determinants of the educational success of young children.

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File URL: http://business.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@commerce/@econ/documents/doc/uow158974.pdf
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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia in its series Economics Working Papers with number wp13-05.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uow:depec1:wp13-05
Contact details of provider: Postal: School of Economics, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong NSW 2522 Australia
Phone: +612 4221-3659
Fax: +612 4221-3725
Web page: http://business.uow.edu.au/econ/index.html

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  1. John Shea, 1997. "Does Parents' Money Matter?," NBER Working Papers 6026, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S1-39, July.
  3. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, August.
  4. Mara Violato & Stavros Petrou & Ron Gray & Maggie Redshaw, 2011. "Family income and child cognitive and behavioural development in the United Kingdom: does money matter?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(10), pages 1201-1225, October.
  5. Alison Aughinbaugh & Maury Gittleman, 2003. "Does Money Matter?: A Comparison of the Effect of Income on Child Development in the United States and Great Britain," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(2).
  6. Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Mogstad, Magne & Wiswall, Matthew, 2010. "What Linear Estimators Miss: Re-Examining the Effects of Family Income on Child Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 4971, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Donna Ginther & Robert Pollak, 2004. "Family structure and children’s educational outcomes: Blended families, stylized facts, and descriptive regressions," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 671-696, November.
  8. Beck A. Taylor & Eric Dearing & Kathleen McCartney, 2004. "Incomes and Outcomes in Early Childhood," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(4).
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