Understanding the Sources of Racial and Gender Disparities in Early Childhood Aggression

Emily Moiduddin, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

This investigation uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to identify the pattern of aggression by sex and race among young black and white children and uses hierarchical linear models to explore whether child gender moderates the influences of neighborhood characteristics, family structure or parenting practices on aggression. Two key findings emerge. First, at ages 3 and 5, black boys are more aggressive than their peers. Second, child gender moderates a number of influences on aggression. Among blacks, having a biological or social father move into the household by age 3 and mothers’ victimization by violence associate with higher initial aggression in boys than girls. In the case of a partner moving in, the gender gap lessens with age. Among whites, having a partner move out and mothers’ use of nonviolent discipline associate with higher initial aggression in boys than girls. Neither gap lessens with age.

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Presented in Session 91: Family Dynamics, Race/Ethnicity, and Early Child Wellbeing