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Keeping Promises: Single Mothers, Race, and Elementary Educational Engagement

Yiwan Ye and Larissa Saco
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Yiwan Ye: University of California, Davis
Larissa Saco: University of California, Davis

Working Papers from Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing.

Abstract: The present study explores how household arrangement influences parental engagement in children’s elementary education among mothers in U.S. urban settings. Using two waves of panel data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 2,982), the present paper compares the difference in educational engagement between coupled (married or cohabiting) and single mothers. Logistic regression models are utilized to examine the impacts of household arrangement on the possibility of enrolling children in tutoring, initiating a conversation with teachers, and frequent book reading with children. After controlling for household structure, financial factors, and mother and child characteristics, results suggest that, compared with mothers who live with partners, single mothers who consistently live alone at waves 4 and 5 are just as likely to hire a tutor but less likely to initiate conversations with teachers. The results also suggest no differences in after-school tutoring enrollment and frequent book reading across household arrangements. This paper also discusses some racial disparities found for parental engagement outcomes. Black mothers are more likely to hire tutors and, like single mothers in general, are less likely to initiate discussions with teachers compared to their White counterparts. Hispanic mothers read with their children less frequently than non-Hispanic mothers, which could possibly be explained by the lesser availability of children’s literature written in the Spanish language compared with the English language. The findings of this paper have important implications for understanding both the engagement strategies employed and obstacles faced by single mothers in urban areas, and suggest new hypotheses for future study of racial gaps in parental engagement in children’s education.

JEL-codes: J12 J15 I21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-09
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ure
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