Does mother know best? Parental discrepancies in assessing child behavioral and educational outcomes
We investigate the degree of correspondence between parents’ reports on child behavioral and educational outcomes using wave four of a rich Danish longitudinal survey of children (the DALSC). All outcomes are measured at age 11 when the children are expected to be in fifth grade. Once discrepancies are detected, we analyze whether they are driven by noisy evaluations or by systematic bias, focusing on the role of parental characteristics and response heterogeneity. We then explicitly assess the relative importance of the mother’s versus the father’s assessments in explaining child academic performance and diagnosed mental health to investigate whether one parent is systematically a better informant of their child’s outcomes than the other. Our results show that parental psychopathology, measured as maternal distress, is a source of systematic misreporting of child functioning, that the parent–child relationship matters, and that mothers are not necessarily a better informant of child functioning than fathers. This last finding should not only be valid for Denmark but also for many other countries, where the father’s role in childcare has been growing.