This paper analyses the socioeconomic gaps in two domains of children’s psychosocial competencies, self-esteem and self-efficacy, in mid-childhood (7-8 years old) and early adolescence (12-13 years old). It then examines the role of parents, more specifically mothers, in closing and reducing these gaps. Nonparametric analysis is used to first establish the trends in psychosocial gaps by socioeconomic status.
These gaps are consistent through the mid-childhood period, but begin to close in early adolescence, especially after a child turns 12. A parametric approach, using a value-added production function, complements the non-parametric analysis by estimating associations between a child’s socio-economic status and their own psychosocial competencies.
The results show that socioeconomic status predicts approximately 0.1 standard deviations of children’s self-esteem and self-efficacy. The addition of maternal inputs show that caregiver’s education plays an important role in reducing the impact of socioeconomic status in the mid-childhood while having a smaller direct effect. Maternal self-esteem modestly predicts child’s self-esteem in the mid-childhood more so than the early adolescence, but in the latter period, reduces the association of socioeconomic status by 21%. These results do not hold for self-efficacy, where only the value-added measure of past child self-efficacy is significant. There again is evidence of mother’s reducing the association of socioeconomic status however.
The results show that parents, play an important role in predicting their children’s psychosocial competencies above and beyond the role of socioeconomic status. On top of this, mothers act as a partial shield from the effects of socioeconomic deprivation. The results promote the efficacy of parental interventions which can boost children’s outcomes beyond raising their socioeconomic status, as well as the importance of consistent investment in children to improve future outcomes.
Keywords: Psychosocial competencies, household environment, socioeconomic status, Peru