Child-Directed Speech in a Large Sample of U.S. Mothers Experiencing Poverty

Featuring Shannon Egan-Dailey, postdoctoral associate in the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Abstract: Children from low socioeconomic-status homes hear less child-directed speech than their more advantaged peers. However, no study has investigated the causal impact of family income or poverty reduction on children’s language input. Using data from Baby’s First Years, this project assesses the causal impact of monthly, unconditional cash transfers on child-directed speech and child vocalizations among a large, racially diverse sample of low-income U.S. mothers and their one-year-olds. We find no significant impacts of the cash gifts on maternal child-directed speech during a 10-minute play session, but we highlight wide variability within our low-income sample.