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Parental Socioeconomic Status, Communication, and Children's Vocabulary Development: A Third-Generation Test of the Family Investment Model


  • This research is currently supported by grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (HD064687, HD051746, MH051361, and HD047573). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies. Support for earlier years of the study also came from multiple sources, including the National Institute of Mental Health (MH00567, MH19734, MH43270, MH59355, MH62989, and MH48165), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA05347), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD027724), the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health (MCJ-109572), and the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Adolescent Development Among Youth in High-Risk Settings.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sara L. Sohr-Preston, Department of Psychology, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA 70402. Electronic mail may be sent to


This third-generation, longitudinal study evaluated a family investment perspective on family socioeconomic status (SES), parental investments in children, and child development. The theoretical framework was tested for first-generation parents (G1), their children (G2), and the children of the second generation (G3). G1 SES was expected to predict clear and responsive parental communication. Parental investments were expected to predict educational attainment and parenting for G2 and vocabulary development for G3. For the 139 families in the study, data were collected when G2 were adolescents and early adults and their oldest biological child (G3) was 3–4 years of age. The results demonstrate the importance of SES and parental investments for the development of children and adolescents across multiple generations.