Parenting and Child Cognitive and Socioemotional Development: A Longitudinal Twin Differences Study

Cassandra Hart, Northwestern University

This paper uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort to analyze the relationship between parenting directed toward 9-month-old children and their subsequent cognitive and socioemotional development at 24 months. This relationship is tested using multiple regression on a nationally representative sample of children (n=9832), and on a subsample of twins (n=1520, 760 pairs). The twin subsample is also used to test the relationship using a twin differences model. Parenting practices are not significantly associated with socioemotional functioning at 2 years once child development at 9 months is controlled. OLS models yield a significant relationship between parenting and cognitive outcomes that diminishes as additional controls are included. This relationship disappears almost entirely when twin differences are employed, suggesting that the OLS findings result partly from a failure to control for unobserved family characteristics. Four potential moderators—race, SES, child temperament, and gender—are tested; none produces consistent evidence of moderation.

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Presented in Poster Session 4