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Acquisition of maternal education and its relation to single word reading in middle childhood: An analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study

Lookup NU author(s): Tom King, Professor Cristina McKeanORCiD, Professor Sheena Reilly, Professor James LawORCiD



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wayne State University Press, 2017.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Maternal education captured at a single time point is commonly employed as apredictor of a child’s cognitive development. In this article, we ask what bear- ing the acquisition of additional qualifications has upon reading performance in middle childhood. This was a secondary analysis of the United Kingdom’s Millennium Cohort Study, a cohort of 18,000 children born in 2000. Our out- come variable was Single-Word Reading from the British Abilities Scales at 7 years. Predictors included maternal age and education, relative poverty, and parity. Increasing maternal education over time was associated with improved child outcomes, with a 2-month developmental advantage for children whose mothers had increased education over those whose mothers had not. Parity was important but conditional on this, and there was no evidence of child attainment reducing for the children of older mothers. A time-varying education-level model is consistent with an input-quality mechanism for language development.

Publication metadata

Author(s): King T, McKean C, Rush R, Westrupp E, Mensah FK, Reilly S, Law J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Merrill-Palmer Quarterly

Year: 2017

Volume: 63

Issue: 2

Pages: 181-209

Print publication date: 01/04/2017

Acceptance date: 01/04/2016

Date deposited: 04/04/2016

ISSN (print): 0272-930X

ISSN (electronic): 1535-0266

Publisher: Wayne State University Press



Funder referenceFunder name
FKM 1037449
SR 1041892