Child-Driven Parenting: Differential Early Childhood Investment by Offspring Genotype

53 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2020 Last revised: 6 Feb 2021

See all articles by Asta Breinholt

Asta Breinholt

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2020

Abstract

A growing literature points to children’s influence on parents’ behavior, including parental investments in children. Further, previous research has shown differential parental response by socioeconomic status to children's birth weight, cognitive ability, and school outcomes – all early life predictors of later socioeconomic success. This study considers an even earlier, more exogenous predictor of parental investments: offspring genotype. Specifically, we analyze (1) whether children’s genetic propensity towards educational success affects parenting during early childhood; and (2) whether parenting in response to children’s genetic propensity towards educational success is socially stratified. Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Survey of Parents and Children (N=7,738), we construct polygenic scores for educational attainment and regress cognitively stimulating parenting behavior during early childhood on these polygenic scores. We use a range of modeling strategies to address the concern that child’s genotype may be proxying unmeasured parent characteristics. Results show that parents provide more cognitive stimulation to children with higher education polygenic scores. This pattern varies by socioeconomic status with college-educated parents responding less to children’s genetic propensity towards educational success than non-college-educated parents do.

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Suggested Citation

Breinholt, Asta and Conley, Dalton, Child-Driven Parenting: Differential Early Childhood Investment by Offspring Genotype (December 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28217, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3753127

Asta Breinholt (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology ( email )

New York, NY 10012
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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