Theses Doctoral

Parental Time or Money: What Matters More for Children's School Success?

Holod, Aleksandra

Previous research suggests that the home environment explains up to one half of the association between poverty and low cognitive skills. Building on this research, this study provides a more nuanced analysis of the family processes through which socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with children's academic outcomes by: 1) including maternal education and family income as predictors of parenting and children's academic skills, and 2) separating the home environment into parental investments of time and materials. Data are drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K; n=20,582). Structural equation modeling is used to examine the extent to which these parental investments mediate associations between markers of SES and children's reading and math achievement. Models also test for moderation of the productivity of parental investments. Results indicate that SES is associated with children's school success via a pathway in which maternal education influences the extent to which parents invest in learning materials for their children, and these learning materials in turn foster development of early literacy and numeracy skills. Parental time has an unexpected negative association with children's achievement, which is explained in supplemental models. Family income and maternal education also moderate the productivity of parental investments, such that the negative effect of time and the positive effect of materials are magnified in more advantaged households. Findings suggest that the following interventions may be worthwhile policy priorities: 1) support for low-SES mothers' pursuit of further education, and/or 2) provision of learning materials for children in disadvantaged families.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Developmental Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2013