Parental Education and Child Well-Being: A Prospective Longitudinal Study

Jeremy Staff, Pennsylvania State University
Jen Doty, University of Minnesota
Chen-Yu Wu, University of Minnesota
Jeylan T. Mortimer, University of Minnesota
Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson, Washington State University

Parental education is associated with a wide range of child outcomes indicative of health and well-being. Taking a life course perspective, we address potential selectivity based on parents’ earlier experiences, which could drive both their educational attainments and their children’s well-being. Youth Development Study data were obtained from 265 parents (G2), from their parents (G1), and from their 422 children (G3, mean age 16). We find that G2 parental education is negatively related to G3 child depressed mood and delinquency, and positively related to child self-esteem, mastery and achievement, when controlling the same well-being indicators measured during the G2 parents’ adolescence, the education and income of G1 families, G2 marital and teen birth status at the time of the G3 child’s birth, and G3 age and sex. We conclude that the association between parental education and child well-being is highly robust, and will examine potential mediators in the coming months.

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 Presented in Session 80. Child Health