Event Andrews Conference Room 2203 SS&H

Community Violence and Early Childhood Language Development: The Moderating Role of Maternal Efficacy and Satisfaction
Agustina Laurito, University of Illinois Chicago

Abstract: This paper estimates the effect of community-level homicides on language development in early childhood. It also explores whether maternal efficacy and satisfaction moderate this relationship. It uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey of Chilean children and their mothers matched to municipal level homicides. The empirical strategy exploits variation in the timing of survey data collection and municipal-level homicides in models with municipality fixed effects. We find that children in municipalities with homicides one month before the language assessment score between 2 and 4 points lower on the test compared to children in the same municipality but for whom homicides happened one month after the assessment. Maternal efficacy and satisfaction both moderate this relationship, but maternal satisfaction plays a more salient role. Language losses are larger for children whose mothers have weaker satisfaction. Among these children, homicides one month before the assessment lower scores by 4 to 7 points. By examining a context in which homicides are growing but still relatively low, this paper provides evidence that community violence does not need to be extreme or very localized to negatively affect child development. It also adds to the body of work that shows the interactions of various social settings are essential to shape child development.

Speaker Bio: Agustina Laurito is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration. She is an applied policy researcher who uses administrative and survey data and quasi experimental methods to answer questions at the intersection of social, education, and health policy. Agustina is broadly interested in how adverse experiences affect children and families and the role of public policy in ameliorating these effects. Among her current projects, she studies food assistance programs, and SNAP in particular, neighborhood crime and children, and more recently the effect of the opioid crisis on children and families. Agustina is also interested in immigrant families and children and her projects in this area investigate the role of non-school factors, including the home country, in shaping immigrant children academic success and well-being.