Parental emotional support and adolescent well-being

A cross-national examination of socio-economic and gender gaps based on PISA 2018 surveys

Parental emotional support, alongside material and temporal support, is an important determinant of children's subjective well-being and academic success. However, not all children benefit from the same level of parental support, and there are major differences depending on families' socio-economic status and child gender. Using the PISA 2018 surveys, this paper examines differences in parental support reported by 15-year-olds both within countries according to social status and between girls and boys, and between countries. We show that differences in parental emotional support by parents' education level and child gender are substantial. Some of these differences are (largely) explained by other characteristics such as family wealth, country of origin, and school urbanicity and private/public status. Greater parental emotional support is also found to be associated with higher PISA test scores and greater subjective wellbeing, with little variation by parental education. On the whole, our findings suggest that a significant enhancement in parental support and related child outcomes, especially in countries with lower average levels of parental emotional support, can be attained through a combined effort on several fronts: by addressing monetary and material poverty within families, by facilitating parents in balancing work and taking care of their children, by promoting greater parental involvement in their children's school life, and by offering appropriate services to assist families with special needs and facing greater challenges.

Available from January 25, 2024

In series:OECD Papers on Well-being and Inequalitiesview more titles