Exploring the Variation in the Impact of Day Care on Child Development by Family Socio-Economic Status

Zsuzsanna Veroszta , Hungarian Demographic Research Institute
Krisztina Kopcsó, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute
Zsolt Spéder, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute

The development of children's socio-emotional well-being is crucial during the early years of their lives. High quality centre-based care can significantly impact children's development, especially for disadvantaged children. Even though it is typically children from low socioeconomic status SES families who benefit the most from centre-based care attendance, these families are less likely to attend. Our study investigates whether the negative impact of low SES family on children’s socio-emotional wellbeing is moderated by non-parental day care in early childhood. The analysis uses the weighted longitudinal database of children from five waves of the Cohort ’18 Growing Up in Hungary study. Children’s socio-emotional wellbeing was assessed through their externalizing and internalizing symptoms in the age of 3 years, measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Linear regression models were employed to identify the influencing factors on the two outcome variables. A buffering effect of day care against the negative effects of low SES was confirmed for internalising symptoms, suggesting that non-parental care may partially compensate for children's social disadvantages. For externalising problems, a timing effect was observed regarding the start of day care, where early entry had a negative impact, while non-parental care did not moderate the negative effects of disadvantages on this outcome. The aim of the study is to explore the extent to which and under what conditions the current system of Hungarian day care is able to reduce externalizing and internalizing symptoms for children from low SES families.

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 Presented in Session 84. Flash session Life Course