Socioeconomic Status, Parenting, and Child Development

By Marc H. Bornstein; Robert H. Bradley | Go to book overview

5
Methodological Issues
in Studies of SES,
Parenting, and Child
Development
Lois Wladis Hoffman
Department of Psychology,
The Uniuersity of Michigan

INTRODUCTION

The importance of socioeconomic status (SES) for children's development has been a subject of research for almost three-quarters of a century (Davis, 1941; Davis & Havighurst, 1946; Hollingshead, 1949; Lynd & Lynd, 1929; Warner & Lunt, 1942). Children's access to health facilities, nutrition, and education; their physical environment, neighborhood, and peers; the kinds of childrearing patterns experienced; the size of their family, its authority structure, and its stability—all are related to social class (L. Hoffman, 1984). So too are a great many child outcomes— health, cognitive performance, social adjustment, educational attainment, and teen pregnancy. Thus, a major challenge for developmental science is to understand the links that connect socioeconomic factors to child outcomes.

There is already a considerable accumulation of data on which to build. As suggested by Ensminger and Fothergill (chap. 1, this volume), a particularly fertile period for research on socioeconomic differences in parenting and children's cognitive development was during the 1960s and early 1970s, when Head Start programs were launched and federal funds were available for research (Deutsch, 1973; Hess, 1970). Although most studies were based on parents' reports of their

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