Jane Waldfogel

Columbia University, New York City, New York, United States

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Publications (147)162.63 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study used the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study to examine the effects of repeated exposure to harsh parenting on child externalizing behavior across the first decade of life, and a moderating role for cumulative ecological risk. Maternal report of harsh parenting, defined as high frequency spanking, was assessed at age 1, 3, 5, and 9, along with child externalizing at age 9 (N = 2,768). Controlling for gender, race, maternal nativity, and city of residence, we found a cumulative risk index to significantly moderate the effects of repeated harsh parenting on child behavior, with the effects of repeated high-frequency spanking being amplified for those experiencing greater levels of cumulative risk. Harsh parenting, in the form of high frequency spanking, remains a too common experience for children, and results demonstrate that the effects of repeated exposure to harsh parenting across the first decade are amplified for those children already facing the most burden.
    Child Abuse & Neglect. 11/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Head Start includes family-oriented services to enhance parent–child relationships, but little is known about the effect of Head Start on parenting practices. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Birth Cohort (n ≈ 7000), we examined whether participation in Head Start was associated with maternal spanking, with particular attention to whether the association differed by child gender. We found that Head Start participation was associated with lower likelihood that mothers spanked their child in the past week at both preschool and kindergarten entry as well as lower likelihood that mothers would use spanking in a hypothetical situation, among boys but not girls. These beneficial effects of Head Start participation on mothers' use of spanking among boys were not reduced by additionally including maternal depression and child behavior problems.
    Children and Youth Services Review 11/2014; 46:55–63. · 1.27 Impact Factor
  • Fuhua Zhai, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Jane Waldfogel
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    ABSTRACT: Using data (n = 3,790 with 2,119 in the 3-year-old cohort and 1,671 in the 4-year-old cohort) from 353 Head Start centers in the Head Start Impact Study, the only large-scale randomized experiment in Head Start history, this article examined the impact of Head Start on children's cognitive and parent-reported social-behavioral outcomes through first grade contingent on the child care arrangements used by children who were randomly assigned to the control group (i.e., parental care, relative/nonrelative care, another Head Start program, or other center-based care). A principal score matching approach was adopted to identify children assigned to Head Start who were similar to children in the control group with a specific care arrangement. Overall, the results showed that the effects of Head Start varied substantially contingent on the alternative child care arrangements. Compared with children in parental care and relative/nonrelative care, Head Start participants generally had better cognitive and parent-reported behavioral development, with some benefits of Head Start persisting through first grade; in contrast, few differences were found between Head Start and other center-based care. The results have implications regarding the children for whom Head Start is most beneficial as well as how well Head Start compares with other center-based programs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
    Developmental psychology. 10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: This study is the first to test whether receipt of a federal child care subsidy is associated with children of immigrants' school readiness skills. Using nationally representative data (n ≈ 2,900), this study estimates the associations between subsidy receipt at age 4 and kindergarten cognitive and social outcomes, for children of immigrant versus native-born parents. Among children of immigrants, subsidized center-based care (vs. subsidized and unsubsidized home-based care) was positively linked with reading. Among children of native-born parents, those in subsidized center care displayed poorer math skills than those in unsubsidized centers, and more externalizing problems than those in unsubsidized home-based care.
    Child Development 08/2014; · 4.92 Impact Factor
  • Christopher Wildeman, Jane Waldfogel
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    ABSTRACT: Social scientists have long been concerned about how the fortunes of parents affect their children, with acute interest in the most marginalized children. Yet little sociological research considers children in foster care. In this review, we take a three-pronged approach to show why this inattention is problematic. First, we provide overviews of the history of the foster care system and how children end up in foster care, as well as an estimate of how many children ever enter foster care. Second, we review research on the factors that shape the risk of foster care placement and foster care caseloads and how foster care affects children. We close by discussing how a sociological perspective and methodological orientation-ranging from ethnographic observation to longitudinal mixed methods research, demographic methods, and experimental studies-can foster new knowledge around the foster care system and the families it affects.
    Annual Review of Sociology 07/2014; 40:599-618. · 4.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE Child maltreatment is a risk factor for poor health throughout the life course. Existing estimates of the proportion of the US population maltreated during childhood are based on retrospective self-reports. Records of officially confirmed maltreatment have been used to produce annual rather than cumulative counts of maltreated individuals. OBJECTIVE To estimate the proportion of US children with a report of maltreatment (abuse or neglect) that was indicated or substantiated by Child Protective Services (referred to as confirmed maltreatment) by 18 years of age. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) Child File includes information on all US children with a confirmed report of maltreatment, totaling 5 689 900 children (2004-2011). We developed synthetic cohort life tables to estimate the cumulative prevalence of confirmed childhood maltreatment by 18 years of age. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES The cumulative prevalence of confirmed child maltreatment by race/ethnicity, sex, and year. RESULTS At 2011 rates, 12.5% (95% CI, 12.5%-12.6%) of US children will experience a confirmed case of maltreatment by 18 years of age. Girls have a higher cumulative prevalence (13.0% [95% CI, 12.9%-13.0%]) than boys (12.0% [12.0%-12.1%]). Black (20.9% [95% CI, 20.8%-21.1%]), Native American (14.5% [14.2%-14.9%]), and Hispanic (13.0% [12.9%-13.1%]) children have higher prevalences than white (10.7% [10.6%-10.8%]) or Asian/Pacific Islander (3.8% [3.7%-3.8%]) children. The risk for maltreatment is highest in the first few years of life; 2.1% (95% CI, 2.1%-2.1%) of children have confirmed maltreatment by 1 year of age, and 5.8% (5.8%-5.9%), by 5 years of age. Estimates from 2011 were consistent with those from 2004 through 2010. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Annual rates of confirmed child maltreatment dramatically understate the cumulative number of children confirmed to be maltreated during childhood. Our findings indicate that maltreatment will be confirmed for 1 in 8 US children by 18 years of age, far greater than the 1 in 100 children whose maltreatment is confirmed annually. For black children, the cumulative prevalence is 1 in 5; for Native American children, 1 in 7.
    JAMA pediatrics. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Despite a growing literature associating physical discipline with later child aggression, spanking remains a typical experience for American children. The directionality of the associations between aggression and spanking and their continuity over time has received less attention. This study examined the transactional associations between spanking and externalizing behavior across the first decade of life, examining not only how spanking relates to externalizing behavior leading up to the important transition to adolescence, but whether higher levels of externalizing lead to more spanking over time as well. We use data from the Fragile families and child well-being (FFCW) study to examine maternal spanking and children's behavior at ages 1, 3, 5, and 9 (N = 1,874; 48 % girls). The FFCW is a longitudinal birth cohort study of children born between 1998 and 2000 in 20 medium to large US cities. A little over a quarter of this sample was spanked at age 1, and about half at age 3, 5, and 9. Estimates from a cross-lagged path model provided evidence of developmental continuity in both spanking and externalizing behavior, but results also highlighted important reciprocal processes taking hold early, with spanking influencing later externalizing behavior, which, in turn, predicted subsequent spanking. These bidirectional effects held across race/ethnicity and child's gender. The findings highlight the lasting effects of early spanking, both in influencing early child's behavior, and in affecting subsequent child's externalizing and parental spanking in a reciprocal manner. These amplifying transactional processes underscore the importance of early intervention before patterns may cascade across domains in the transition to adolescence.
    Journal of Youth and Adolescence 03/2014; · 2.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background and Purpose: Head Start (HS) provides parent education emphasizing the skill-based dimensions of parenting practices, such as cognitive stimulation, child discipline, and child safety. However, the effects of HS on family processes are not well understood. To date, three studies have found beneficial effects of HS on parents’ use of spanking. However, these studies paid little attention to gender differences in estimating the effects, although child gender is an important factor predicting parents’ use of spanking. In addition, the studies did not explore the mechanisms by which HS participation reduced parental spanking. Therefore, in this study, we first explore gender differences in the association between HS participation and mothers’ use of spanking. And then we investigate whether the gender differences in the effects of HS on mothers’ use of spanking are explained by levels of children’s behavior problems. Methods: Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS‐B), we analyzed a sample of children (n≈7,000) who had valid information on HS participation at the preschool survey and whose mothers had valid information on at least one of parental outcomes at the preschool and kindergarten surveys. HS attendance status was measured at the preschool survey (yes/no). Mothers’ use of spanking was measured using two dichotomous indicators: whether since birth a mother had ever spanked her child until the preschool (or kindergarten) survey and whether a mother spanked her child in the prior week at the preschool (or kindergarten) survey. Two mediation variables were measured both at the preschool and kindergarten surveys standardizing the total scores of parent-reported items that asked about children’s conduct and attention problems. Using propensity-score weighted regressions with an extensive set of covariates, we first confirmed the association between HS and mothers’ use of spanking, separately for girls and boys. We next estimated whether HS is associated with children’s behavior problems, separately for girls and boys. We then finally investigated whether HS is associated with mothers’ use of spanking after controlling for children’s behavior problems, separately for girls and boys. Sobel tests were used to test the significance of found mediation effects. Results: Overall, we found HS participation was associated with reduced spanking for boys at the preschool survey (odds ratio=0.79, p<.05), but possibly with increased spanking for girls at the kindergarten survey (odds ratio=1.25, p<.10). Furthermore, we found children’s behavior problems mediated the gender-moderated associations between HS and mother’s use of spanking: reduced spanking among boys at the preschool survey was partially explained by their reduced attention problems (Sobel test=-2.14, p<.05, 15% of the total effects), whereas increased spanking among girls at the kindergarten survey was partially explained by their increased conduct problems (Sobel test=2.75, p<.01, 33% of the total effects). Implications: Our findings suggest enhancing parent and family services would be a step in the right direction to improve HS programs. More importantly, in addition to exploring main effects of HS, examining moderated effects by child characteristics would deepen our understanding of the possible role of HS programs in reducing the risk of child maltreatment.
    The Society for Social Work and Research 2014 Annual Conference; 01/2014
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE:To examine the prevalence of maternal and paternal spanking of children at 3 and 5 years of age and the associations between spanking and children's externalizing behavior and receptive vocabulary through age 9.METHODS:The Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study of children in 20 medium to large US cities, was used. Parental reports of spanking were assessed at age 3 and 5, along with child externalizing behavior and receptive vocabulary at age 9 (N = 1933). The data set also included an extensive set of child and family controls (including earlier measures of the child outcomes).RESULTS:Overall, 57% of mothers and 40% of fathers engaged in spanking when children were age 3, and 52% of mothers and 33% of fathers engaged in spanking at age 5. Maternal spanking at age 5, even at low levels, was associated with higher levels of child externalizing behavior at age 9, even after an array of risks and earlier child behavior were controlled for. Father's high-frequency spanking at age 5 was associated with lower child receptive vocabulary scores at age 9.CONCLUSIONS:Spanking remains a typical rearing experience for American children. These results demonstrate negative effects of spanking on child behavioral and cognitive development in a longitudinal sample from birth through 9 years of age.
    PEDIATRICS 10/2013; · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Using a sample of low-income children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (N ≈ 4,350) and propensity-score weighted regressions, we analyzed children's nutrition, weight, and health care receipt at kindergarten entry, comparing 1) Head Start participants and all non-participants, and 2) Head Start participants and children in prekindergarten, other center-based care, other non-parental care, or only parental care. Overall, we found that compared to all non-participants, Head Start participants were more likely to receive dental checkups but showed no differences in getting medical checkups; they were also more likely to have healthy eating patterns but showed no differences in Body Mass Index (BMI), overweight, or obesity. However, these results varied depending on the comparison group-Head Start participants showed lower BMI scores and lower probability of overweight compared to those in other non-parental care, and the effects on healthy eating and dental checkups differed by comparison group.
    Early Childhood Research Quarterly 10/2013; 28(4). · 1.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study draws on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=2,032), a birth cohort study of families with children from 20 U.S. cities. Interviews occurred between August 2007, and February 2010, when the children were approximately 9 years old. Macro-economic indicators of the Great Recession such as the Consumer Sentiment Index and unemployment and home foreclosure rates were matched to the data to estimate the links between different measures of the Great Recession and high frequency maternal spanking. We find that the large decline in consumer confidence during the Great Recession, as measured by the Consumer Sentiment Index, was associated with worse parenting behavior. In particular, lower levels of consumer confidence were associated with increased levels of high frequency spanking, a parenting behavior that is associated with greater likelihood of being contacted by child protective services.
    Child abuse & neglect 09/2013; · 2.34 Impact Factor
  • Fuhua Zhai, Jane Waldfogel, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
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    ABSTRACT: We examine the effects of Head Start participation on parenting and child maltreatment in a large and diverse sample of low-income families in large U.S. cities (N = 2,807), using rich data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS). To address the issue of selection bias, we employ several analytic approaches, including logistic regressions with a rich set of pretreatment controls as well as propensity score matching models, comparing the effects of Head Start to any other arrangements as well as specific types of other arrangements. We find that compared to children who did not attend Head Start, children who did attend Head Start are less likely to have low access to learning materials and less likely to experience spanking by their parents at age five. Moreover, we find that the effects of Head Start vary depending on the specific type of other child care arrangements to which they are compared, with the most consistently beneficial protective effects seen when Head Start is compared to being home in exclusively parental care.
    Children and Youth Services Review 07/2013; 35(7):1119-1129. · 1.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (n ≈ 6,950), a nationally representative sample of children born in 2001, we examined school readiness (academic skills and socioemotional well-being) at kindergarten entry for children who attended Head Start compared with those who experienced other types of child care (prekindergarten, other center-based care, other nonparental care, or parental care). Using propensity score matching methods and ordinary least squares regressions with rich controls, we found that Head Start participants had higher early reading and math scores than children in other nonparental care or parental care but also higher levels of conduct problems than those in parental care. Head Start participants had lower early reading scores compared with children in prekindergarten and had no differences in any outcomes compared with children in other center-based care. Head Start benefits were more pronounced for children who had low initial cognitive ability or parents with low levels of education or who attended Head Start for more than 20 hr per week. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    Developmental Psychology 03/2013; · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Using data from the 1967–2009 years of the March Current Population Surveys (CPS), we examine two important resources for children’s well-being: time and money. We document trends in parental employment, from the perspective of children, and show what underlies these trends. We find that increases in family work hours mainly reflect movements into jobs by parents—particularly mothers, who in prior decades would have remained at home. This increase in market work has raised incomes for children in the typical two-parent family but not for those in lone-parent households. Time use data from 1975 and 2003–2008 reveal that working parents spend less time engaged in primary childcare than their counterparts without jobs but more than employed peers in previous cohorts. Analysis of 2004 work schedule data suggests that non-daytime work provides an alternative method of coordinating employment schedules for some dual-earner families.
    Demography 02/2013; 50(1):25-49. · 1.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This analysis uses March Current Population Survey data from 1999 to 2010 and a differences-in-differences approach to examine how California's first in the nation paid family leave (PFL) program affected leave-taking by mothers following childbirth, as well as subsequent labor market outcomes. We obtain robust evidence that the California program doubled the overall use of maternity leave, increasing it from an average of three to six weeks for new mothers--with some evidence of particularly large growth for less advantaged groups. We also provide evidence that PFL increased the usual weekly work hours of employed mothers of 1- to 3-year-old children by 10 to 17 percent and that their wage incomes may have risen by a similar amount.
    Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 01/2013; 32(2):224-45. · 0.93 Impact Factor
  • Fuhua Zhai, Jane Waldfogel, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
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    ABSTRACT: Child care programs (including Head Start, pre-Kindergarten [pre-K], and other center-based care) can differ, with patterns of use based on their location. Yet little research has examined how Head Start and pre-K programs affect children's academic school readiness, including vocabulary and reading skills at school entry, in the South as compared to other regions. To examine this further, secondary data (n = 2,803) collected in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study were examined. Overall findings suggest, regardless of region, that Head Start and pre-K participants had higher academic skills at school entry than their counterparts. In addition, when Head Start was compared to other center-based care and pre-K was compared to other care arrangements, both had larger effects on improving academic skills in the South than in other regions. These findings imply that Head Start and pre-K programs should target children who otherwise would receive non-parental non-center-based care. Future research should focus on why the effects of Head Start and pre-K vary between the South and other regions.
    Journal of Social Service Research 01/2013; 39(3):345-364. · 0.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In spite of important differences in some of the resources immigrant parents have to invest in their children, and in immigrant selection rules and settlement policies, there are significant similarities in the relative positions of 4- and 5-year-old children of immigrants in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Children of immigrants underperform their counterparts with native-born parents in vocabulary tests, particularly if a language other than the official language is spoken at home, but are not generally disadvantaged in nonverbal cognitive domains, nor are there notable behavioral differences. These findings suggest that the cross-country differences in cognitive outcomes during the teen years documented in the existing literature are much less evident during the early years.
    Child Development 09/2012; 83(5):1591-607. · 4.92 Impact Factor
  • Daniel P Miller, Jane Waldfogel, Wen-Jui Han
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigates the link between the frequency of family breakfasts and dinners and child academic and behavioral outcomes in a panel sample of 21,400 children aged 5-15. It complements previous work by examining younger and older children separately and by using information on a large number of controls and rigorous analytic methods to discern whether there is causal relation between family meal frequency (FMF) and child outcomes. In child fixed-effects models, which controlled for unchanging aspects of children and their families, there were no significant (p < .05) relations between FMF and either academic or behavioral outcomes, a novel finding. These results were robust to various specifications of the FMF variables and did not differ by child age.
    Child Development 08/2012; · 4.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: By adversely affecting family functioning and stability, poverty constitutes an important risk factor for children's poor mental health functioning. This study examines the impact of a comprehensive microfinance intervention, designed to reduce the risk of poverty, on depression among AIDS-orphaned youth. Children from 15 comparable primary schools in Rakai District of Uganda, one of those hardest hit by HIV/AIDS in the country, were randomly assigned to control (n = 148) or treatment (n = 138) conditions. Children in the treatment condition received a comprehensive microfinance intervention comprising matched savings accounts, financial management workshops, and mentorship. This was in addition to traditional services provided for all school-going orphaned adolescents (counseling and school supplies). Data were collected at wave 1 (baseline), wave 2 (10 months after intervention), and wave 3 (20 months after intervention). We used multilevel growth models to examine the trajectory of depression in treatment and control conditions, measured using Children's Depression Inventory (Kovacs). Children in the treatment group exhibited a significant decrease in depression, whereas their control group counterparts showed no change in depression. The findings indicate that over and above traditional psychosocial approaches used to address mental health functioning among orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa, incorporating poverty alleviation-focused approaches, such as this comprehensive microfinance intervention, has the potential to improve psychosocial functioning of these children.
    Journal of Adolescent Health 04/2012; 50(4):346-52. · 2.97 Impact Factor
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    Wen-Jui Han, Raehyuck Lee, Jane Waldfogel
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    ABSTRACT: Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (n ≈ 6,800), we examined the factors explaining variation in school readiness in a large and nationally representative sample of children in immigrant and non-immigrant families. In OLS regression models with rich controls to account for selection, we found that language background was a key factor in explaining children of immigrants' expressive language and early reading at kindergarten, whereas both socioeconomic status and language background helped explain their performance in math.
    Children and Youth Services Review 04/2012; 34(4):771-782. · 1.27 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
162.63 Total Impact Points


  • 1997–2014
    • Columbia University
      • • School of Social Work
      • • College of Physicians and Surgeons
      • • School of International and Public Affairs
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2013
    • Institute for Clinical Social Work
      • Department of Social Work
      Georgia, United States
  • 2011–2013
    • Stony Brook University
      • Health Sciences Center
      Stony Brook, NY, United States
  • 2012
    • CUNY Graduate Center
      New York City, New York, United States
    • Connecticut College
      New London, Connecticut, United States
  • 2006–2011
    • University of Bristol
      • School of Economics, Finance and Management
      Bristol, England, United Kingdom
    • Urban Institute
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States
  • 2009
    • Boston University
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2000–2009
    • University of Wisconsin, Madison
      • School of Social Work
      Mississippi, United States
  • 2000–2008
    • The National Bureau of Economic Research
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States