New research has found that kids whose parents help them study are more likely to succeed in school. A study published in the Journal of Labor Economics combed through data of about 99,000 children in Israel who lost their parents before the age of 18 through death or divorce.
“We found that if a mother dies, her education becomes less important for whether her child passes the test, while at the same time the father’s education becomes more important. If a father dies, the reverse happens,” Bruce Weinberg, a professor of economics at Ohio State University and co-author of the study, wrote in a press release. “These relationships are stronger when the parent dies when the child is younger.”
This means that student success isn’t determined by genetics, but by parenting.
The study also refutes claims that money has feeds into academic success. If that were the case, researchers argue, then children would be more negatively affected academically by losing their fathers than their mothers, because fathers traditionally earn more.
“That’s not what we found. The loss of a mother – who tends to spend more time than the father with her children – had a bigger effect than loss of a father in our study,” Weinberg said.
But the negative impact of losing a mother could be mitigated if the father remarries and the child receives a new step mom. Meanwhile the study also found that moms’ academic achievements were linked to their kids’ academic success in larger families. Researchers say that this could be because mothers with more children tended to spend more time with the kids and less time working outside the home.
“Other studies show that highly educated parents tend to spend more time with their children. Our results may suggest one reason why they do: It has a strong impact on academic success,” Weinberg said.