Differences in academic achievement between high and low socioeconomic status (SES) children arise at a very early age. Understanding the factors that give rise to these differences is essential for understanding the intergenerational transmission of poverty. This project tests the idea that the psychological experience of poverty leads parents to engage less with their young children, hampering early child development. The researchers focus on parents’ verbal interactions with children, which differ markedly by SES in observational data, and are the most prominent proxy for parental engagement in developmental psychology.
This pilot project leverages a cash transfer intervention among households in Oakland, CA, to examine how alleviating financial constraints impacts verbal interactions within the household. The pilot will engage 100 low-income households, including young adult mothers—a population whose financial strain has been elevated by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 recession. The researchers will use home-based child-centered naturalistic audio recordings and daily surveys to measure indicators of financial strain, mental health and well-being, and child development.
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