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Income-Based Family Typology and Child Development: Evidence from the UK

Discussion Papers 2049, 41 S.

Elena Claudia Meroni, Francesca Verga


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Our paper contributes to the literature studying how household conditions can influence children’s development, focusing on the type of family model where children grow up, defined on the basis of parental employment status and relative earnings. The traditional “male-breadwinner” model is no longer the only type of family that has been observed throughout recent decades; the “dual-breadwinner” family model is currently widespread across all developed countries and an additional household type is becoming more prevalent: the one in which the woman is the sole or main wage-earner, the so-called “female-breadwinner” arrangement. How do different family models influence the development of children’s skills? We use data from the Millennium Cohort Study (UK) to investigate the association between different typologies of families and cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes, focusing on children aged 7 and 11. We find that, compared to children growing up in male-breadwinner households, only children who have at least one parent who does not work at all are worse off in some socioemotional outcomes. Children growing up in other types of arrangements (equal earners or female-breadwinner) do not differ in their cognitive or socio-emotional outcomes.

JEL-Classification: J13;J24;D10
Keywords: Child development, female breadwinner, dual breadwinner, male breadwinner, household employment, Millennium Cohort Study
Frei zugängliche Version: (econstor)