Maternal Education and Parental Investments: A Child Health Perspective

Kate C. Prickett, University of Texas at Austin
Jennifer M. Augustine, University of Houston

Maternal education is a principal channel in the intergenerational transmission of inequality. Importantly, this process begins when children are young and the competencies that lead to better academic, cognitive, and psychosocial development are first developing. Whereas stratification research has focused on these domains, these processes can also be applied to children’s health. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort and mixed random-effects models, we examine the association between maternal education and child health investment behaviors, investigating changes over the early developmental gradient (i.e. birth through kindergarten). We find support not only for an association between maternal education and more advantageous child health investment behaviors (such as well-child check-ups, appropriate nutrition, and physical activity), but that the education gap is largest during age periods when health demands are most complex. This study has implications for policy targeting early disadvantages in young children’s health and understanding the intergenerational transmission of health inequalities.

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Presented in Session 105: Investments in Children: Implications for Well-Being