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Does Material Time Matter for Children's Cognitive Outcomes? An Instrumental Variable Approach

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Amy Hsin

This project seeks to extend the literature by providing better causal estimates of the effect of maternal employment and by identifying how maternal employment might affect child development through its influence on parental time investments in children. We ask two important questions. Does maternal employment affect the amount and type of mother-child interactions children receive from their mothers? Do these changes in time matter for children’s human capital development? Using an instrumental variable approach, we identify the causal relationship between employment and time investments, on one hand, and between time investments and child outcomes, on the other. We propose to use local labor market conditions as an instrument for maternal employment when looking at the effect of employment on time investments. Grandparent characteristics (e.g. education and work history) serve as an instrument for maternal time in estimates of the effect of time on child outcomes. The Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics provides us with information on mother's employment, time diaries of children’s time with mothers, children’s test scores and grandparents' characteristics. Linking this data with Geocoded data, we obtain information on local labor market conditions.

Funding Period: 04/01/2009 to 06/30/2010

Country of Focus: USA

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