Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Children in low-income homes fare better in kindergarten if moms work when they are babies

Date:
June 16, 2014
Source:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Summary:
Kindergarteners from lower-income families who were babies when their mothers went to work outside the home fare as well as or even better than children who had stay-at-home moms, according to new research. Time, stress and money were the main factors the researchers examined to determine the effects of mothers' employment on children.

Kindergarteners from lower-income families who were babies when their mothers went to work outside the home fare as well as or even better than children who had stay-at-home moms, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

This finding, in a study published in APA's journal Developmental Psychology, is contrary to the findings of previous studies of children born two to three decades ago. Family income is apparently a key factor, with the new research finding children from low-income families had slightly higher cognitive skills if their mothers went back to work before they were 9 months old, and fewer conduct problems if their mothers went back to work when they were between 9 and 24 months old. For children in middle-income households, there were no ill effects if their mothers worked when they were babies. However, for children in high-income households, the study found small detrimental effects. The results showed no significant differences across racial and ethnic groups.

"Moms going back to work when children are still babies may affect the children differently in contemporary society because there are so many more working women today with greater responsibility for their families' income," said lead author Caitlin McPherran Lombardi, PhD, of Boston College. "Different cultural attitudes, more readily available and higher-quality child care and more fathers participating in childrearing are other possible reasons for the difference."

The study used data from a National Center for Education Statistics longitudinal survey that followed 10,700 children born in the United States in 2001. Prior research that found a negative link between early maternal employment and children's later development was based on data from large-scale U.S. studies of children born in 1982, 1991 and 1993, the study said. For the more recent survey, 31 percent of mothers reported no employment in the two years following the child?s birth, while 58 percent of mothers were employed before the child was 9 months old and 11 percent were employed when their child was between 9 and 24 months. These numbers are similar to those reported in national employment statistics from the same year, the study said.

The NCES survey collected data about the children when they were 9 months, 2 years and 4 years old, and when they entered kindergarten. Their households ran the gamut of incomes from low to high, and the families spoke not only English or Spanish, but other languages as well to ensure a nationally representative sample.

Time, stress and money were the main factors the researchers examined to determine the effects of mothers' employment on children. Mothers reported how many hours they worked, their wages and other sources of family income and described their stress levels. Children's cognitive skills at the start of kindergarten were measured using standardized tests of vocabulary, early reading and early mathematical ability. The children's behavior in kindergarten was assessed via teacher reports on a commonly used rating scale for preschool and kindergarten behavior that included attention skills and interaction with peers.

"Most mothers today return to full-time work soon after childbirth, and they are also likely to remain in the labor market five years later, suggesting the employment decisions soon after childbirth are pivotal to determining mothers' long-term employment," said Lombardi. "Our findings suggest that children from families with limited economic resources may benefit from paid maternal leave policies that have been found to encourage mothers' employment after childbearing."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association (APA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Caitlin McPherran Lombardi and Rebekah Levine Coley. Early Maternal Employment and Children’s School Readiness in Contemporary Families. Developmental Psychology, June 2014 DOI: 10.1037/a0037106

Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association (APA). "Children in low-income homes fare better in kindergarten if moms work when they are babies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140616102412.htm>.
American Psychological Association (APA). (2014, June 16). Children in low-income homes fare better in kindergarten if moms work when they are babies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140616102412.htm
American Psychological Association (APA). "Children in low-income homes fare better in kindergarten if moms work when they are babies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140616102412.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins