Transmission or Transaction? The Role of Child Characteristics in Parental Educational Expectations Using Both Longitudinal and Behavioral Genetic Methods

Daniel A. Briley, University of Texas at Austin
Elliot Tucker-Drob, University of Texas at Austin

Parental educational expectations are thought to be a key socialization mechanism of parent-to-child transmission of academic beliefs and are consistently linked with children’s achievement. This paper presents results from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth and Kindergarten cohorts. In the twin subsample of the Birth cohort, we find that although parental expectations are marked by a substantial family-environment component, they are also significantly influenced by variation in child genotypes. We explore mechanisms that might underlie these child-to-parent effects using both multivariate behavioral genetic and longitudinal cross-lagged path models of child characteristics (approaches towards learning and problem behaviors), child achievement (math and reading), and parental educational expectations. We find genetically-mediated within-family effects of child characteristics on parental expectations. Using longitudinal models, we find that initial levels of child characteristics predict changes in educational expectations. These results are consistent with a transactional framework in which both parent-to-child and child-to-parent effects co-occur.

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Presented in Session 21: Genes, Environment, Health and Development