Cognitive and socio emotional effects of family disruption during early childhood : a longitudinal study using chilean data
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Children’s outcomes, and the link with the family structure they grew up in, has been deeply investigated by researches from different areas of science, including psychology, sociology, and economics, among others. There seems to be consensus that the traditional family structure, i.e. a birth mother and a birth father raising children together, is the healthiest environment for children to grow up in. (Cherlin, et al., 1997; Corak, 1998; Case, Lin and Mclahan, 2000; Bertrand & Pan, 2011). The Chilean family structure has changed in the last few decades: single parent households have become increasingly common, and for the first time, the country has a data set that allows us to investigate the possible effects this type of households may have on young children. The “Encuesta Longitudinal de la Primera Infancia” (ELPI) includes data about the family, child care, presence of the birth parents in the child’s household, reasons for mother or father’s absence, cognitive and psychological tests administrated to both, the children and the mother or responsible adult, parent’s occupational status, etc. Considering the latter, and the fact that early childhood has proven to be one of the most important stages of development (Bucarey, Ugarte and Urzua, 2014), suggests the importance of this analysis. Using the first two waves available of the ELPI, we estimate the effect of family disruption on cognitive achievement and emotional status. Because there are individuals that belonged to intact families in the first wave, but belonged to a single parent household in the second one, we can use a fixed effects model to control for heterogeneity between families. We also, check for pre divorce outcomes and attempt to establish the mechanism through which the disruption affects children. To study cognitive achievement we use a Hispanic version of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT). This test measures the child’s vocabulary abilities and has proven to be a successful proxy for future academic performance. A test score over 103 is considered high. Secondly, the test Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) is used to measure children’s socio emotional abilities. The answers to this test are given by their tutors during an interview. A CBCL score greater than 63 falls in the category of clinical emotional problems or distress, so the better the child is, the lower his or her score should be. Section II studies international evidence of the importance of family structure on children’s outcomes, section III describes the different family types and their characteristics, section IV presents our methodology and results, and section V discusses these results. Finally section VI concludes.
TESIS PARA OPTAR AL GRADO DE MAGÍSTER EN ANÁLISIS ECONÓMICO
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