Research Paper University of Essex Department of Economics Discussion Paper Series 726
Understanding the SES gradient in early child development: maternal work, home learning, and child care decisions
This paper examines the impacts of family inputs - i.e., maternal employment, child care and home learning - on the early development of British children. Using rich longitudinal data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study we estimate cognitive and non-cognitive achievement production functions that allow outcomes to depend on the history of family inputs and unobserved child endowments. We find evidence of small effects on early child outcomes of all the family inputs under consideration. Nonetheless, according to some models, family inputs are found to reduce socio-economic status inequalities in early child development quite substantially, while according to other models they are found to magnify them. Attempting to equalize child outcomes through early policy interventions that generically affect family inputs may therefore prove difficult.