Parenting Style as an Investment in Human Development

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 03/16

Date: 2016


Deborah A. Cobb-Clark
Nicolas Salamanca
Anna Zhu


We propose a household production function approach to human development that explicitly considers the role of parenting style in child rearing. Specifically, we model parenting style as an investment in human development that depends not only on inputs of time and market goods, but also on attention, i.e. cognitive effort. The model links socioeconomic disadvantage to parenting style and human development through the constraints that disadvantage places on cognitive capacity. We find empirical support for our model. We demonstrate that parenting style is a construct that is distinct from standard goods- and time-intensive parental investments and that effective parenting styles are negatively correlated with socioeconomic disadvantage. Moreover, parenting style is an important determinant of young adults’ human capital net of other parental investments.

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  • Parenting style, cognitive load, locus of control, socioeconomic disadvantage, parental investments, human development