Effects of Day-Care on Cognitive and Socioemotional Competence of Thirteen-Year-Old Swedish Schoolchildren


  • This study is part of a major research project (The FAST project) carried out at the Department of Educational Research, Stockholm Institute of Education and at the Department of Educational Research, University of Gothenburg (Andersson & Sandqvist, 1982). Support for the project has been provided by grants from the National Board of Education, the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, and the Delegation for Social Research. The follow-up to age 13 was made possible by a grant from the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. I wish to thank my colleagues in the FAST project-Lars Gunnarsson, Solveig Hägglund, Ulla Kihlblom, Göran Lassbo, and Karin Sandqvist-for their contributions. I also thank Urie Bronfenbrenner for his advice and stimulating discussions.

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This is a follow-up study of an earlier one in which positive effects of early day-care experience were found on children's cognitive and socioemotional competence at age 8. 128 children were followed from their first year of life. At 8 and 13 years of age, 92% and 89% of the children, respectively, remained in the study. Most children could be classified according to age at first entry into day-care. Cognitive and socioemotional competence was rated by the children's classroom teachers. Hierarchical regression and path analyses were used in the statistical treatment of the data. It was possible to trace independent positive effects of age of entry into day-care as far as age 13. Children entering center care or family day-care before age 1 generally performed better in school when 8 and 13 years old and received more positive ratings from their teachers on several socioemotional variables. The path analyses indicated the following causal model: family characteristics, such as type of family, family's socioemotional status, and mother's educational level, influence the time of first entry into day-care. This variable, in turn, has consequences for children's competence at 8 and/or 13 years of age even after controlling for home background, child gender, and intelligence, which, of course, have their own effects. The effect of socioeconomic status was often mediated through age of entry into day-care.