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Does Education Homogenize Parenting Practices?

Sun, August 12, 8:30 to 10:10am, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Level 4, Franklin Hall 9

Abstract

This paper examines whether education homogenizes mothers' engagement in cognitively stimulating parenting. The alternative is that highly educated mothers were already a homogeneous group before earning their degree. Using data from the NLSY-CYA, I jointly analyze differences between educational groups in the mean and variance of cognitively stimulating parenting using a variance function regression. To address selection, I exploit NLSY-CYA data on the parenting of adult sisters to apply a fixed effect design, controlling for unobserved characteristics of the mother's origin family. I contribute three main findings. First, descriptively, I find much higher variance in cognitively stimulating parenting among low educated mothers compared to higher educated mothers. Second, I find that observed characteristics of the origin family partially and unobserved characteristics of the origin family fully explain the differences in variance in cognitively stimulating parenting between low and highly educated mothers, which suggests that highly educated mothers were a more homogeneous group before earning their degree. Third, I find that mean differences in cognitively stimulating parenting between low and highly educated mothers persist after controlling for unobserved characteristics of the mother's origin family supporting the hypothesis that education increases engagement in cognitively stimulating parenting.

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