OECD Education Working Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected studies drawing on the work of the OECD Directorate for Education. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language (English or French) with a short summary available in the other.

English, French

Why parenting matters for children in the 21st century

An evidence-based framework for understanding parenting and its impact on child development

This paper provides a structured overview of the existing parenting literature with the aim of developing an evidence-based and culture-sensitive framework of parenting and its influence on child development. The paper outlines how changes in the 21st century have altered family life and summarises evidence from 29 meta-studies and 81 quantitative studies for the developmental impact of different parenting styles and dimensions. Overall, results suggest that warm parenting that provides children with age-appropriate autonomy and structure is key for a healthy and prosperous development of children and adolescents across various domains. The parenting approach adopted by parents but also its effect varies and the paper points to various contextual (e.g. culture, socio-economic factors, support within the community and family) and individual (e.g. gender, personality and health condition of children and parents) factors explaining these variations. The paper discusses how a systematic consideration of such factors not only sharpens the scientific understanding of parenting and its impact but also helps improving family policies and support.


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