Good Parents

Kevin Lewis

November 27, 2022

Parenting Practices and Adolescent Internalizing Symptoms in the United States, 1991–2019
Noah Kreski et al.
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming 

Methods: Using 1991–2019 Monitoring the Future data (N = 933,645), we examined trends in five parental practices (i.e., knowledge [three combined indicators], monitoring [four combined indicators], communication, weekend curfew, social permission) with ordinal regressions. We tested associations between parental practices and indicators of being in the top decile of depressive affect, low self-esteem, and self-derogation using survey-weighted logistic regressions, adjusted for gender, race/ethnicity, grade, and parental education.

Results: The prevalences of parental practices have not changed over time, with the exception of increases in parental knowledge, specifically parents knowing where an adolescent is after school (1999–2019 mean increase: 4.34 to 4.61 out of 5) and knowing an adolescent's location (4.16–4.49) and company at night (4.26–4.51). Higher levels of each practice were associated with lower internalizing symptoms (e.g., adjusted odds ratio for a high depressive affect based on a one-unit increase in parental knowledge: 0.89, 95% confidence interval: 0.88, 0.90). Patterns were consistent across internalizing outcomes and decade.

Should Mothers Work? How Perceptions of the Social Norm Affect Individual Attitudes Toward Work in the U.S.
Patricia Cortés et al.
NBER Working Paper, October 2022 


We study how peer beliefs shape individual attitudes toward maternal labor supply using realistic hypothetical scenarios that elicit recommendations on the labor supply choices of a mother with a young child and an information treatment embedded within representative surveys. Across the scenarios, we find that individuals systematically overestimate the extent of gender conservativeness of the people around them. Exposure to information on peer beliefs leads to a shift in recommendations, driven largely by information-based belief updating. The information treatment also increases (intended and actual) donations to a non-profit organization advocating for women in the workplace.

Parents of Children With High Weight Are Viewed as Responsible for Child Weight and Thus Stigmatized
Devanshi Patel et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming


Courts in seven U.S. states have removed children with “obesity” from parental custody until children could maintain “healthy weights.” These rulings — alongside qualitative reports from parents of children with high weight (PoCHs) — suggest that PoCHs are judged as bad parents. Yet little work has tested whether people genuinely stigmatize PoCHs or what drives this phenomenon. In three experiments with U.S. online community participants (N = 1,011; two preregistered), we tested an attribution theory model: Social perceivers attribute children’s weights to parents and thus stigmatize those parents. Experiments 1 and 2 support this model (across parent and child gender). Experiment 3 manipulated attributions of parental responsibility for child weight, revealing attenuated stigma with low attributions of responsibility. Findings are among the first to describe and explain stigma toward a large demographic (parents of children with obesity) — with real-world implications (e.g., for family separation, health care) — and may additionally illuminate the psychology underlying stigma toward parents of children with other potentially stigma-evoking identities.

Can a Poverty Reduction Intervention Reduce Family Stress Among Families with Infants? An Experimental Analysis
Katherine Magnuson et al.
University of Wisconsin Working Paper, May 2022 

Method: The Baby’s First Years study recruited 1,000 low-income mothers of newborns. Shortly after giving birth, mothers were randomized to receive an unconditional monthly cash gift of either $333 or $20 per month. Follow-up data were collected from 931 mothers approximately 12 months after the birth of their child.

Results: Although the intervention produced a moderate increase in household income and reduced poverty, we observe no detectable improvements in mothers’ subjective reports of economic hardship, psychological distress, the quality of their relationship with a partner, or the quality of play with their infants. However, mothers who received the higher cash gift amounts reported more frequently engaging in enriching child activities during the first year of life than did mothers who received lower cash gift amounts.

In utero exposure to the Great Depression is reflected in late-life epigenetic aging signatures
Lauren Schmitz & Valentina Duque
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 15 November 2022


Research on maternal-fetal epigenetic programming argues that adverse exposures to the intrauterine environment can have long-term effects on adult morbidity and mortality. However, causal research on epigenetic programming in humans at a population level is rare and is often unable to separate intrauterine effects from conditions in the postnatal period that may continue to impact child development. In this study, we used a quasi-natural experiment that leverages state-year variation in economic shocks during the Great Depression to examine the causal effect of environmental exposures in early life on late-life accelerated epigenetic aging for 832 participants in the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS). HRS is the first population-representative study to collect epigenome-wide DNA methylation data that has the sample size and geographic variation necessary to exploit quasi-random variation in state environments, which expands possibilities for causal research in epigenetics. Our findings suggest that exposure to changing economic conditions in the 1930s had lasting impacts on next-generation epigenetic aging signatures that were developed to predict mortality risk (GrimAge) and physiological decline (DunedinPoAm). We show that these effects are localized to the in utero period specifically as opposed to the preconception, postnatal, childhood, or early adolescent periods. After evaluating endogenous shifts in mortality and fertility related to Depression-era birth cohorts, we conclude that these effects likely represent lower bound estimates of the true impacts of the economic shock on long-term epigenetic aging.

State Insurance Mandates for in Vitro Fertilization are not Associated with Improving Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Utilization and Treatment Outcomes 
Katharine Correia, Katherine Kraschel & David Seifer
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, forthcoming 

Study Design: A cohort study using data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinical Outcome Reporting System from 2014-2019 for autologous IVF cycles. The primary outcomes were utilization, defined as the number of in vitro fertilization cycles per 10,000 reproductive-aged women, and cumulative live birth, defined as the delivery of at least one liveborn neonate resulting from a single stimulation cycle and its corresponding fresh or thawed transfers.

Results: A majority (72.9%) of the 1,096,539 cycles from 487,191 women occurred in states without an insurance mandate. Although utilization was higher across all racial and ethnic groups in mandated states, the increase in utilization was greatest for non-Hispanic Asian and non-Hispanic white women. For instance, in the most recent study year (2019), the utilization rates for non-Hispanic white women as compared to non-Hispanic Black/African American women were 23.5 cycles per 10,000 women higher in non-mandated states and 56.2 cycles per 10,000 women higher in mandated states. There was no significant interaction between race and ethnicity and insurance mandate status on any of the clinical outcomes.


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