Cash Transfers and Parent-Child Interaction

Differences in academic achievement between high and low socioeconomic status (SES) children arise at a very early age. Understanding the factors that give rise to these differences is essential for understanding the intergenerational transmission of poverty. This project tests the idea that the psychological experience of poverty leads parents to engage less with their young children, hampering early child development. We focus on parents’ verbal interactions with children, which differ markedly by SES in observational data, and are the most prominent proxy for parental engagement in developmental psychology. We leverage a cash transfer intervention among households in Oakland, CA, to examine impacts on verbal interactions within the household. We apply natural language processing tools to detailed 3 week-long audio recording data from inside the household—providing novel insight into the black box of family dynamics. We also use this infrastructure to test and validate measurement tools for psychological pathways, such as rumination, stress, and affect. The pilot will be comprised of 100 low-income, predominantly Black and Latinx households, including young adult mothers—a population whose financial strain has been elevated by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 recession.

RFP Cycle:
SPRI RFP XIII [Oct. 2020]
United States of America
  • Pilot project