INMA: “Mother’s academic level and father’s work weigh more on cognitive development”


A study weighs the influence of the socioeconomic conditions of the parents on the abilities of their children

The higher the socioeconomic level of the parents, the more cognitive development of the children. Scientific literature supports this statement, always talking about averages, not concrete cases. What had not been studied so much is how the status of the father and mother influences, separately. This is the study that a group of researchers has published in the “Gaceta Sanitaria” magazine, with a fairly clear conclusion: while the mother’s studies weigh significantly on the development of the child, in the case of the father the role is taken by their social class.

The researchers studied three social determinants whose influence on cognitive development is well documented: income, employment status and educational level. Low economic resources at home influences in low investment in education, lower quality housing and neighborhoods with fewer services. The type of employment of parents can cause stress and more problematic family relationships. The academic level of education of the parents usually reflects their ability to solve problems.

In the study, in which 525 children of five and six years old participated, it was found that these three factors weighed 10% in the cognitive development of the children, evaluated through standardized tests that measure their psychomotor skills, verbal ability or executive functions. Of all the factors, they found that there was a significant relationship between the type of occupation of the father, the academic level of the mother, his age (in intermediate ages there was more cognitive development on average than in the older and younger ones) and his intelligence. There was also a correlation with gestational size: the smallest had worse scores. The researchers also measured the use of some toxic substances during pregnancy, of which the heaviest was tobacco in mothers during the first trimester.

Llúcia González, one of the researchers, explains that the conclusions may have several explanations: “In the case of social class, (which in the study is determined by the work of the father) in the case of men is usually more stable, because there’s usually less rotation while mothers are more likely to quit their jobs to raise their children. “In the study they consider the hypothesis that fathers usually provide material goods while the endowments of mothers are based on their own academic achievement. In addition, it seems that education plays different roles: the mother’s education is relevant for academic achievement in the child’s early years, while father’s education is more important in the youth stage.

Link to the news of El Pais:

Link to the scientific article: