Growing up unequal: Objective and subjective economic disparities and authoritarian parenting

William Schneider, Anika Schenck-Fontaine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although there is evidence of economic disparities in parents' financial and time investments in children, little existing empirical work has considered the disparities in authoritarian parenting, a risk for child maltreatment. Similarly, existing research has largely focused on the role of objective markers of socioeconomic status (SES), although perceived subjective social status (SSS) may be equally powerful in shaping disparities in parenting behaviors. Data: This article draws on 30 years of General Social Survey data to examine the association between objective socioeconomic status and subjective social status and parents' endorsement of authoritarian parenting practices. Methods: We model the association between parents' SES and SSS and approval of authoritarian parenting practices estimated with odds ratios from logistic regressions and examine parental race as a potential moderator. Results: We find that SES and SSS are both associated with increased odds of endorsing authoritarian parenting, that SSS-based disparities are independent of SES, and that white parents' parenting may be more influenced by both SES and SSS than Black parents' parenting. Conclusions: This work provides evidence that SES not only drives gaps in parental investments in children, but also gaps in their endorsement of authoritarian parenting. This is important because authoritarian parenting is not only directly associated with adverse outcomes for children, but is also associated with an increased risk for child maltreatment. It also expands the existing literature by showing that subjective measures of social status are important and distinct from objective measures of SES, and that these associations vary by race.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105332
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Authoritarian parenting
  • Child maltreatment
  • Inequality
  • Subjective social status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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