Quality versus Quantity of Care: Maternal Time, Parenting Behavior and Children's Cognitive Outcomes

Amy Hsin, University of California, Los Angeles

Much as been written on the effect of maternal employment on children's well-being. Few have identified the pathways through which employment should exert its influence on children. This paper uses children's time diaries from the PSID-CDS to obtain direct measures of the quantity and intensity of maternal care, in addition to measures of the quality of parenting and maternal employment. I examine three questions: (1) Do children who receive more maternal care and/or more intense care during early childhood have higher later cognitive outcomes?; (2) Does the quality of early parenting influence later outcomes?; and (3) Does early maternal employment have an indirect effect? Preliminary results suggest that it is not the quantity of maternal care nor employment but the quality of early parenting that matters for children's development. Home environment and positive parenting (e.g., emotional support and cognitive stimulation) have the strongest and most consistent correlation with children's cognitive outcomes.

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Presented in Session 145: Demographic Impacts on Parental Time with Children