Maternal occupation-specific skills and children's cognitive development

Katherin Barg, Markus Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This article hypothesizes that maternal occupation-specific skills are associated with children’s cognitive development over and above parents’ other human, financial, and social capital. Data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study on 13,543 children were complemented with occupation-level data (n=79) from the British Skills Surveys on aggregate measures of mothers’ occupation-specific skills (literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, verbal, and physical). We did not find any association between maternal occupation-specific skills and children’s non-verbal ability (inductive reasoning, spatial awareness) at age 5 when conditioning on covariates. However, mothers’ verbal skills (e.g., presentation skills) were positively associated with children’s verbal ability (naming vocabulary) over and above other parental resources. By contrast, mothers’ physical skills (e.g., use of physical strength) were negatively associated with children’s verbal abilities. Albeit effect sizes are small, maternal occupation-specific skills contribute to social stratification in children’s verbal development net of human, financial and social capital.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-139
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Early online date23 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2024


  • child cognitive ability
  • job skills
  • occupations
  • parenting
  • social stratification


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