Monday, July 2, 2012

Statistical evidence on the existence of Tiger Mothers

I analyzed detailed data from the American Time Use Survey. This U.S. government survey measures the time use of thousands of individuals from 2003 to 2009 based on time diaries, which are considered the most accurate way to measure time use. ...

Figure 1 shows that Asian [American] high school students indeed spend more time studying and doing homework. The bars show average weekly hours spent on studying and homework by full-time high school students, averaged over the entire year. The average (non-Hispanic) White student spends five-and-one-half hours per week, and Hispanic and (non-Hispanic) Black students spend even less. In contrast, the average Asian student spends a whopping 13 hours per week (and recall that this is averaged over summer vacation times as well!). Moreover, the differences become greater if the sample is limited to children who have at least one parent with a college degree. Thus, the educational level of their parents cannot explain the large differences. ...

Do these Asian students "coast" on studying once they escape the grips of their "Tiger Moms?" To answer this question, Figure 2 shows study time by full-time college students. ...
Table 2 shows time spent by parents by ethnic group in education activities with their children, such as reading to them or helping with homework, as well as total time spent on childcare. These averages control for differences across groups in the number and age of children, education of the mother, and marital status. The numbers show that Asian mothers do spend more time in educational activities, but only half an hour a week more than White mothers. There is no difference in time spent on all childcare between White and Asian mothers, though both groups devote more time than Black and Hispanic mothers. Thus, these "Tiger Mothers" seem to be able to make their children spend much more time studying without having to spend more of their own time. Perhaps this is what "Chinese discipline" is all about.
--Valerie Ramey on the statistical truth behind the stereotype