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Cognitive and Socioemotional Caregiving in Developing Countries


  • This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, NICHD.

concerning this article should be addressed to Marc H. Bornstein, Child and Family Research, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Suite 8030 6705 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892-7971. Electronic mail may be sent to


Enriching caregiving practices foster the course and outcome of child development. This study examined 2 developmentally significant domains of positive caregiving—cognitive and socioemotional—in more than 127,000 families with under-5 year children from 28 developing countries. Mothers varied widely in cognitive and socioemotional caregiving and engaged in more socioemotional than cognitive activities. More than half of mothers played with their children and took them outside, but only a third or fewer read books and told stories to their children. The GDP of countries related to caregiving after controlling for life expectancy and education. The majority of mothers report that they do not leave their under-5s alone. Policy and intervention recommendations are elaborated.