Going Back to School: Do Children Benefit When Mothers Obtain Additional Education?
Katherine Magnuson

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin – Madison

Primary Discipline

Human development
Understanding the concurrent links between mothers’ and children’s school trajectories, particularly among disadvantaged families, is critical to discerning the consequences of policies and programs that support or limit parents’ educational opportunities. Although most adults complete their schooling before becoming a parent, it is increasingly common for parents, especially low-income mothers, to attend school. Research has found that parents with higher levels of education provide more enriching home environments for their children, and this in turn improves children’s early academic skills and school performance. However, few studies have investigated whether education that women complete after becoming a parent holds the same benefits. Are children’s academic trajectories improved if their mother completes an additional grade of school or a new degree? Using rich data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten cohort of 1998, this study will consider whether increases in maternal education during children’s early school years are linked to improvements in children’s home environments and academic achievement. It will also consider whether these effects differ by family socioeconomic status (family structure, income, and education) and by the type of education mothers complete (vocational vs. academic).
About Katherine Magnuson

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