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Family Constructs and Academic Achievement

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Past studies have linked family constructs and academic achievement. Children tend to have higher achievement when they have more parents, higher family socio-economic status (SES), more educational resources, or more family involvement (Entwisle & Alexander, 1995). Whether these links differ across countries (richer vs. poorer; degree of household income inequality; various cultural values) remain open questions. Hence, this study examines these issues in the context of science achievement. After summarizing the links between family constructs and academic achievement, several hypotheses for country differences are discussed.

Family constructs

Family members can give children extra resources or compete for them. On the one hand, additional family members who provide extra resources, especially parents, provide more learning opportunities on which children can capitalize to achieve more (resource provider hypothesis; see figure 1, middle column; Amato, 2001; Entwisle & Alexander, 1995; Horvat, Weininger, & Lareau, 2003). Families with more parents typically have higher SES, more educational resources at home (e.g., books), and more parent-time to spend with their children (greater parent communication and involvement). In contrast, separated parents have fewer resources and face more challenges in caring for their children, so the children might receive less attention (e.g. from stepparents in blended families). Meanwhile, immigrant parents, especially those that speak a foreign language, likely have less social and cultural capital to share with their children (e.g., cultural possessions and communication), which limits children's learning opportunities and often their academic achievement (Coleman, 1994; Portes & MacLeod, 1996).

On the other hand, additional family members who primarily compete for family resources (such as grandparents and siblings) reduce the available resources for a child, often yielding fewer learning opportunities and lower academic achievement (resource dilution hypothesis; see figure 1, middle column; Downey, 2001). Some children benefit from affluent grandparents' resources (Bengston, 2001) and show higher achievement (DeLeire and Kalil, 2002). However, children who live with poor or ill grandparents compete with them for limited family resources (Patillo-McCoy, Kalil & Payne, 2003). Furthermore, children with more resident siblings often have fewer resources at home and achieve less than those with fewer resident siblings (Downey, 2001). Older siblings tend to receive more family resources than do younger siblings because they compete with younger siblings for family resources only after the latter's births (e.g., parental time, energy, and engagement, Powell & Steelman, 1993). Hence, parents are often resource providers, while resident grandparents and siblings often compete for family resources, thereby diluting

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