Panel Paper: Impacts of Child Development Accounts On Mother's Educational Expectations and Children's Social-Emotional Development

Thursday, November 7, 2013 : 3:20 PM
3016 Adams (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Youngmi Kim1, Jin Huang2, Michael Sherraden3 and Margaret Clancy3, (1)Virginia Commonwealth University, (2)St. Louis University, (3)Washington University
Background:Children’s social and emotional development, educational attainment, and educational expectations vary by race and ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Of the various policies promoting child development and children’s higher education, we focus on Child Development Accounts (CDAs). CDAs are universal and progressive savings account designed to facilitate an early start to college savings with financial incentives for low- and moderate-income families. In this study, we use data from birth certificates and SEED for Oklahoma Kids (SEED OK) to investigate the impacts of CDAs on mothers’ educational expectations and children’s social-emotional development.

Method: SEED OK is a policy experiment with randomly selected newborn children in Oklahoma. Study participants (N= 2704) were assigned randomly to treatment and control groups after completing a baseline interview and before the SEED OK intervention began. State-owned Oklahoma 529 accounts with an initial deposit of $1,000 were opened automatically for the treatment children and savings matches were available for income-eligible households. We use data from birth records, the baseline SEED OK survey conducted in 2007–2008, and the follow-up SEED OK survey conducted in 2011. The dependent variables are (a) the change in mothers’ educational expectations between the two surveys and (b) children’s social-emotional development as measured in the follow-up survey. Mothers’ educational expectations are measured by the following question in both surveys: “How far in school do you think that [your child] will go?” Five response categories range from “won’t finish high school” (1) to “will go to graduate school” (5). To measure any change in educational expectations over time, we calculate the difference and recode mothers into two categorical levels: “remain the same or increase” (1) and “decrease” (0). Children’s social-emotional development is measured using a 17-item scale excerpted from the Ages and Stages Questionnaires®: Social Emotional (ASQ: SE). Using the experimental design, we ran bivariate tests to evaluate the impacts of CDAs on the full sample and across socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. The regression-adjusted treatment effects that control for demographic and socioeconomic characteristics also are reported. 

Results: When contrasted with mothers in the control group, a significantly higher proportion of treatment participants report in the follow-up survey that they have either the same or a higher level of educational expectation. The treatment also has a significant and positive impact on social-emotional development of SEED OK children, and positive effects of CDAs are more apparent in socioeconomically disadvantaged subgroups (e.g., welfare recipients, those without a high school diploma, and those with income below 200% of the poverty line). Results are consistent in regression-adjusted analyses and other sensitivity tests.  

Conclusion: Our study provides evidence of CDAs’ impact on maintaining or increasing mothers’ educational expectations and promoting children’s early social-emotional development, particularly among disadvantaged groups who might not keep expectations high or pay less attention to early socio-emotional development without the intervention. By supplementing existing early childhood educational and health care programs (e.g., Head Start), CDAs might encourage parents and their children to develop early positive educational identities and enhance socio-emotional development.