Do Parents Treat Children Differently? How Social Stratification and Genes Influence Parental Reactions to Twin’s Birth Weight

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Volker LANG, Bielefeld University, Germany
Martin DIEWALD, Bielefeld University, Germany
Bastian MOENKEDIEK, Bielefeld University, Germany
Parenting is highly relevant for offspring’s development in general and also for the transmission of social advantage. When parents make decisions about how they raise their children, they also react to their children’s perceived developmental potential (PDP). However, they may follow different norms and considerations which are influenced by their location within the structure of social inequalities. Theories and empirical studies are inconclusive whether and in which direction parents of higher social strata are more prone to reinforcing or compensating parenting behaviors. This may be due to the different study designs used: singleton, sibling, or twin studies without control for genetic heterogeneities. All of these designs carry the risk of mixing up parental reactions to PDP with other factors. Our paper provides a comprehensive look at between- and within-family social stratification of parenting for 1,022 twin pairs at age 10 to 12 taken from the German TwinLife study. We apply ACE-β models, which in contrast to former studies take genetic variation into account. We analyze different parenting dimensions and indicators of parental social stratification; and use birth weight as proxy for PDP. Our results confirm the compensation as well as the reinforcement hypothesis, but dependent on the dimension of parental social stratification: Higher parental education is linked with compensating parental reactions to PDP, while higher parental occupational status leads to reinforcement. However, this applies only to stimulating activities commonly seen related to cultural capital accumulation. For other parenting dimensions we do not find significant differences in parental reactions to PDP.