We conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the Child-Parent Center (CPC) early childhood intervention. Using data collected up to age 26 on health and well-being, the study is the first adult economic analysis of a sustained large-scale and publicly-funded intervention. As part of the Chicago Longitudinal Study, a complete cohort of 900 low-income children who enrolled in 20 CPCs beginning at age 3 were compared to 500 well-matched low-income children who participated in the usual educational interventions for the economically disadvantaged in Chicago schools. School-age services were provided up to age 9 (third grade). Findings indicated that the three components of CPC had economic benefits in 2007 dollars that exceeded costs. The preschool program provided a total return to society of $10.83 per dollar invested (net benefits per participant of $83,708). Benefits to the public (other than program participants and families) were $7.20 per dollar invested. The primary sources of benefits were increased earnings and tax revenues, averted criminal justice system and victim costs, and savings for child welfare, special education, and grade retention. The school-age program had a societal return of $3.97 per dollar invested and a $2.11 public return. The extended intervention program (4 to 6 years of participation) had a societal return of $8.24 and public return of $5.21. Estimates were robust across a wide range of discount rates and alternative assumptions, and were consistent with the results of Monte Carlo simulations. Males, 1-year preschool participants, and children from higher risk families had greater economic benefits. Findings provide strong evidence that sustained early childhood programs can contribute to well-being for individuals and society.
How is number-concept acquisition related to overall language development? Experiments 1 and 2 measured number-word knowledge and general vocabulary in a total of 59 children, ages 30 to 60 months. A strong correlation was found between number-word knowledge and vocabulary, independent of the child’s age, contrary to previous results (Ansari et al., 2003). This result calls into question arguments that (a) the number-concept creation process is scaffolded mainly by visuo-spatial development, and (b) that language only becomes integrated after the concepts are created (ibid). Instead, this may suggest that having a larger nominal vocabulary helps children learn number words. Experiment 3 shows that the differences with previous results are likely due to changes in how the data were analyzed.
Three generations of participants were assessed over approximately 27 years, and intergenerational prediction models of growth in the third generation’s (G3) externalizing and internalizing problems across ages 3 to 9 years were examined. The sample included 103 fathers and mothers (G2), at least one parent (G1) for all of the G2 fathers (99 mothers, 72 fathers), and 185 G3 offspring (83 boys, 102 girls) of G2, with prospective data available on the G2 fathers beginning at age 9 years. Behavior of the G2 mother, along with father contact and mother age at birth were included in the models. Intergenerational associations in psychopathology were modest, and much of the transmission occurred via contextual risk within the family of procreation.
childhood; externalizing; fathers; growth modeling; intergenerational; internalizing
Group-based social hierarchies exist in nearly every society, yet little is known about whether children understand that they exist. The present studies investigated whether 3- to 10-year-old children (N=84) in South Africa associate higher-status racial groups with higher levels of wealth, one indicator of social status. Children matched higher-value belongings with White people more often than with multiracial or Black people and with multiracial people more often than with Black people, thus showing sensitivity to the de facto racial hierarchy in their society. There were no age-related changes in children’s tendency to associate racial groups with wealth differences. The implications of these results are discussed in light of the general tendency for people to legitimize and perpetuate the status quo.
social status; social groups; race; South Africa; attitudes; children
Effortful control (EC), or the trait-like capacity to regulate dominant responses, has important implications for children’s development. Although genetic factors and parenting likely influence EC, few studies have examined whether they interact to predict its development. The current study examined whether the DRD4 exon III variable number tandem repeat polymorphism moderated the relationship between parenting and children’s EC. A total of 382 three-year-olds and primary caregivers completed behavioural tasks assessing children’s EC and parenting. Children’s DRD4 genotypes moderated the relationship between parenting and EC: children with at least one 7-repeat allele displayed lower EC in the context of negative parenting than children without this allele. These findings suggest opportunities for modifying early risk for low EC.
effortful control; dopamine D4 receptor; parenting
The authors used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine whether spanking at ages 1 and 3 is adversely associated with child cognitive skills and behavior problems at ages 3 and 5. Results from cross-lagged path analyses revealed spanking at age 1 to be associated with a higher level of both spanking and externalizing behavior problems at age 3, and spanking at age 3 to be associated with a higher level of both internalizing and externalizing behavior problems at age 5. Additionally, the longer-term associations between spanking at age 1 and behavioral problems at age 5 appeared to predominantly operate through ongoing spanking at age 3. Results for cognitive skills, though less consistent, suggested no association between spanking at age 1 with poorer receptive vocabulary at age 3 or age 5.
This study investigates the link between the frequency of family breakfasts and dinners and child academic and behavioral outcomes in a panel sample of 21,400 children aged 5–15. It complements previous work by examining younger and older children separately and by using information on a large number of controls and rigorous analytic methods to discern whether there is causal relation between family meal frequency (FMF) and child outcomes. In child fixed effects models, which controlled for unchanging aspects of children and their families, there were no significant (p<.05) relations between FMF and either academic or behavioral outcomes, a novel finding. These results were robust to various specifications of the FMF variables and did not differ by child age.
Translating relationship boundaries conceptualizations to the study of sibling relationships, this study examined the utility of sibling enmeshment and disengagement in predicting child adjustment difficulties in a sample of 282 mothers and adolescents (Mean age = 12.7 years). Mothers completed a semi-structured interview at the first measurement occasion to assess sibling interaction patterns. Adolescents, mothers, and teachers reported on children’s adjustment problems across two annual waves of assessment. Supporting the incremental utility of a boundary conceptualization of sibling relationships, results of latent difference score analyses indicated that coder ratings of sibling enmeshment and disengagement uniquely predicted greater adolescent adjustment difficulties even after taking into account standard indices of sibling relationship quality (i.e., warmth, conflict) and sibling structural characteristics (e.g., sex).
The development and adjustment correlates of parent-child social (parent, child, and others present) and dyadic time (only parent and child present) from age 8 to 18 were examined. Mothers, fathers, and firstborns and secondborns from 188 White families participated in both home and nightly phone interviews. Social time declined across adolescence, but dyadic time with mothers and fathers peaked in early and middle adolescence, respectively. Additionally, secondborns’ social time declined more slowly than firstborns’, and gendered time use patterns were more pronounced in boys and in opposite-sex sibling dyads. Finally, youths who spent more dyadic time with their fathers, on average, had higher general self-worth, and changes in social time with fathers were positively linked to changes in social competence.
birth order; gender; parent-child relationships; psychosocial adjustment; social context; time use
The primary objectives of this investigation were to examine the attributions, emotional reactions, and coping strategies of shy/withdrawn and aggressive girls and boys and to examine whether such social cognitions differ within the relationship context of friendship. Drawn from a sample of 5th and 6th graders (M age = 10.79 years; SD = .77), 78 shy/withdrawn, 76 aggressive, and 85 control children were presented with hypothetical social situations that first involved unfamiliar peers, then a mutual good friend. Results revealed group and gender differences and similarities, depending on the relationship context. From our findings emerges a central message: friends' involvement during interpersonal challenges or stressors mitigates children's attributions, emotions and coping responses.
We investigated the contribution of five hypotheses to the estimated effects of preschool in the Child-Parent Centers on occupational prestige, felony arrest, and depressive symptoms in adulthood in the Chicago Longitudinal Study. An alternative-intervention, quasi-experimental design included over 1,400 low-income participants (93% of whom were black) who attended preschool for 1–2 years or the usual early educational intervention and were traced to age 24. LISREL analysis of five hypotheses (cognitive advantage, family support, school support, motivational advantage, and social adjustment) indicated that while each individually accounted for part of the estimated direct effect of preschool on adult well-being, the best-fitting model across outcomes included indicators of all five hypotheses. The full model completely accounted for the direct effect of preschool on occupational prestige and official felony arrest, and 79% on depression symptoms. Key mediators included cognitive skills at school entry, school quality in the elementary grades, juvenile arrest, and school completion. The identified processes may help establish, strengthen, and sustain effects in other programs and settings.
Cognitive deficits have been reported in children who experienced early neglect, especially children raised in institutionalized settings. Previous research suggests early neglect may differentially affect the directional organization of white matter in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). This may be one mechanism to explain cognitive deficits associated with neglect. To test this idea, properties of white matter and neurocognitive performance was assessed in children who suffered early neglect and those raised in typical environments (n=63, Mean Age=11.75 years). As predicted, prefrontal white matter microstructure was affected, consistent with more diffuse organization, in children that suffered early neglect and this was related to neurocognitive deficits. Such findings underscore how early adversity may affect the PFC and explain cognitive deficits associated with neglect.
stress; prefrontal cortex; brain development; early neglect; maltreatment; neuroimaging; frontal lobe; cognitive development; cognitive neuroscience; critical period; sensitive period; chronic stress; executive functioning; neural plasticity
A bidimensional acculturation framework cannot account for multiple destination cultures within contemporary settlement societies. We propose and test a tridimensional model among Jamaican adolescent-mother dyads in the United States compared with Jamaican Islander, European American, African American, and other Black and non-Black U.S. immigrant dyads (473 dyads, M adolescent age = 14 years). Jamaican immigrants evidence tridimensional acculturation, orienting toward Jamaican, African American, and European American cultures. Integration is favored (70%), particularly tricultural integration; moreover, Jamaican and other Black U.S. immigrants are more oriented toward African American than European American culture. Jamaican immigrant youth adapt at least as well as non-immigrant Jamaican and U.S. peers, although assimilated adolescents, particularly first generation, have worse sociocultural adaptation than integrated and separated adolescents.
Black Immigrant; Segmented Assimilation; Caribbean/West Indian; Bidimensional Model
This study examined specific forms of emotional reactivity to conflict and temperamental emotionality as explanatory mechanisms in pathways among interparental aggression and child psychological problems. Participants of the multi-method, longitudinal study included 201 two-year-old children and their mothers who had experienced elevated violence in the home. Consistent with emotional security theory, autoregressive structural equation model analyses indicated that children’s fearful reactivity to conflict was the only consistent mediator in the associations among interparental aggression and their internalizing and externalizing symptoms one year later. Pathways remained significant across maternal and observer ratings of children’s symptoms and with the inclusion of other predictors and mediators, including children’s sad and angry forms of reactivity to conflict, temperamental emotionality, gender, and socioeconomic status.
Advancing the long-term prospective study of explanations for the effects of marital conflict on children’s functioning, relations were examined between interparental conflict in kindergarten, children’s emotional insecurity in the early school years, and subsequent adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems. Based on a community sample of 235 mothers, fathers and children (M = 6.00, 8.02, 12.62 years), and multi-method and multi-reporter assessments, structural equation model (SEM) tests provided support for emotional insecurity in early childhood as an intervening process related to adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems, even with stringent auto-regressive controls over prior levels of functioning for both mediating and outcome variables. Discussion considers implications for understanding pathways between interparental conflict, emotional insecurity and adjustment in childhood and adolescence.
Quantity and quality of caregiver input was examined longitudinally in a sample of 50 parent-child dyads to determine which aspects of input contribute most to children’s vocabulary skill across early development. Measures of input gleaned from parent-child interactions at child ages 18-, 30- and 42-months were examined in relation to children’s vocabulary skill on a standardized measure one year later (e.g., 30-, 42-, and 54 months). Results show that controlling for SES, input quantity, and children’s previous vocabulary skill, using a diverse and sophisticated vocabulary with toddlers and use of decontextualized language (e.g. narrative) with preschoolers explains additional variation in later vocabulary ability. The differential effects of various aspects of the communicative environment at several points in early vocabulary development are discussed.
Cross-classified items pose an interesting challenge to children’s induction since these items belong to many different categories, each of which may serve as a basis for a different type of inference. Inductive selectivity is the ability to appropriately make different types of inferences about a single cross-classifiable item based on its different category memberships. This research includes five experiments that examine the development of inductive selectivity in 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds (N = 272). Overall, the results show that by age 4 years, children have inductive selectivity with taxonomic and script categories. That is, children use taxonomic categories to make biochemical inferences about an item whereas children use script categories to make situational inferences about an item.
inductive selectivity; inductive inferences; cross-classification; categorization
To test proposals regarding the hierarchical organization of adult attachment, this study examined developmental origins of generalized and romantic attachment representations and their concurrent associations with romantic functioning. Participants (N = 112) in a 35-year prospective study completed the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) and Current Relationship Interview (CRI). Two-way ANOVAs tested interactive associations of AAI and CRI security with infant attachment, early parenting quality, preschool ego resiliency, adolescent friendship quality, and adult romantic functioning. Both representations were associated with earlier parenting and core attachment-related romantic behavior, but romantic representations had distinctive links to ego resiliency and relationship-specific romantic behaviors. Attachment representations were independent and did not interactively predict romantic functioning, suggesting that they confer somewhat distinctive benefits for romantic functioning.
Attachment representations; romantic functioning; developmental organization
For adults, ownership is non-obvious: (a) determining ownership depends more on an object’s history than on perceptual cues, and (b) ownership confers special value on an object (“endowment effect”). This study examined these concepts in preschoolers (2.0–4.4) and adults (N=112). Participants saw toy-sets in which one toy was designated as the participant’s, and one as the researcher’s. Toys were then scrambled and participants were asked to identify their toy and the researcher’s toy. By three years of age, participants used object history to determine ownership, and identified even undesirable toys as their own. Furthermore, participants at all ages showed an endowment effect (greater liking of items designated as their own). Thus, even 2-year-olds appreciate the non-obvious basis of ownership.
Using data from the New Immigrant Survey, a study based on a nationally representative sample of legal immigrants, the present study extends prior research on the academic outcomes of immigrants’ children by examining the roles of pre- and post-migration parent characteristics and the home environment. An analysis of 2,147 children ages 6-12 shows that parents’ pre-migration education is more strongly associated with children’s academic achievement than any other pre- or post-migration attribute. Pre-migration parental attributes account for the test score disadvantage of Mexican-origin children of legal immigrants, relative to their non-Latino counterparts. The findings reveal continuities and discontinuities in parental SES and demonstrate that what parents bring to the United States and their experiences after arrival influence children’s academic achievement.
Little is known about how key aspects of parental migration or child-rearing history affect social development across children from immigrant families. Relying on data on approximately 6,400 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort, analyses assessed the role of mothers’ age at migration on children’s social development in the United States (sociability and problem behaviors). Consistent with models of divergent adaptation and assimilation, the relationship between age at arrival and children’s social development is not linear. Parenting practices, observed when children were approximately 24 months of age, partially mediated the relation between mothers’ age at arrival and children’s social development reported at approximate age 48 months, particularly in the case of mothers who arrived as adults.
In spite of important differences in some of the resources immigrant parents have to invest in their children, and in immigrant selection rules and settlement policies, there are significant similarities in the relative positions of four and five year old children of immigrants in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Children of immigrants underperform their counterparts with native-born parents in vocabulary tests, particularly if a language other than the official language is spoken at home, but are not generally disadvantaged in nonverbal cognitive domains, nor are there notable behavioral differences. These findings suggest that the cross-country differences in cognitive outcomes during the teen years documented in the existing literature are much less evident during the early years.
children of immigrants; early child development; international comparison
Abundant US research documents an “immigrant advantage” in children’s physical health. This article extends consideration to the United Kingdom, permitting examination of a broader group of immigrants from disparate regions of the world and different socioeconomic backgrounds. Drawing on birth cohort data (ages 0–5) from both countries (N=4,139 and N=13,381), the analysis considers whether the children of immigrants have a physical and mental health advantage around the beginning of elementary school, and whether advantage is more pronounced among low-educated populations. Findings indicate that the children of immigrants are not uniformly healthier than those in native-born families. Rather, there is heterogeneity in the immigrant advantage across outcomes, and evidence of both greater advantage and disadvantage among children in low-educated immigrant families.
Drawing from developmental and cultural adaptation perspectives and using a longitudinal design, this study examined: (a) mean-level changes in Mexican-origin adolescents’ cultural orientations and adjustment from early to late adolescence; and (b) bidirectional associations between cultural orientations and adjustment using a cross-lag panel model. Participants included 246 Mexican-origin, predominantly immigrant families that participated in home interviews and a series of nightly phone calls when target adolescents were 12 years and 18 years of age. Girls exhibited more pronounced declines in traditional gender role attitudes than did boys, and all youth declined in familism values, time spent with family, and involvement in Mexican culture. Bidirectional relations between cultural orientations and adjustment emerged, and some associations were moderated by adolescent nativity and gender.
adolescence; adjustment; culture; immigrant youth; Mexican American
Chromosomal microarray analysis (CMA) has emerged as a powerful new tool to identify genomic abnormalities associated with a wide range of developmental disabilities including congenital malformations, cognitive impairment, and behavioral abnormalities. CMA includes array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays, both of which are useful for detection of genomic copy number variants (CNV) such as microdeletions and microduplications. The frequency of disease-causing CNVs is highest (20%–25%) in children with moderate to severe intellectual disability accompanied by malformations or dysmorphic features. Disease-causing CNVs are found in 5%–10% of cases of autism, being more frequent in severe phenotypes. CMA has replaced Giemsa-banded karyotype as the first-tier test for genetic evaluation of children with developmental and behavioral disabilities.