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Does Financial Scarcity Cause Parents to Speak Less to their Children?

Health & Psychology India

Credit: Mark Nye

Despite strong evidence for socioeconomic (SES) differences in child-directed speech, there has been little evidence for its cause. We test the hypothesis that the experience of financial hardship itself suppresses parents’ speech with their children. To do so, we take advantage of variation in the timing of harvests among farmers in Tamil Nadu, India, to record child-directed speech when parents are “low-SES” (before harvest) and when they are “high-SES” (after).

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