Parental health and children’s cognitive and non-cognitive development

New evidence from the longitudinal survey of Australian children
AuthorsHuong Thu Le, Ha Nguyen
PublishedNovember 2015
PublisherBankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper Series

This paper examines the effects of maternal and paternal health on cognitive and non-cognitive development in Australian children. The underlying nationally representative panel data and a child fixed effects estimator are used to overcome most of the previous cross-sectional study limitation in dealing with unobserved heterogeneity. While previous literature has found evidence supporting the adverse impact of poor parental health on child development our results found little evidence to support this. We also found little differential effect based on the gender of the child, the parent, or household income levels. However, we found a small amount of evidence suggesting that poor parental health may worsen some cognitive and non-cognitive skills of young children only. Our results demonstrate that either failing to account for parent-child fixed effects or using child non-cognitive skills reported by parents could over-estimate the harmful impact of poor parental health on child development.