What is it about?

Parents provide both genetics and nurturing environment for their offspring, which makes it difficult to identify specific parental characteristics that causally influence child development and mental health. This review article describes a variety of research methods and designs that can help to identify causal effects of parents on their children. We also provide examples on how these methods have been used to study parental effects on child psychological outcomes such as education and mental health.

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Why is it important?

Identifying causal factors for child development and mental health outcomes is crucial to design effective prevention and intervention strategies. Yet, knowledge of the true causal parental factors is often lacking. This paper encourages researchers in various fields such as psychology, psychiatry, pediatrics or child development to apply robust research methods and designs that will help to better understand the causes of (poor) mental health and development of children and adolescents.


We hope this paper will help researchers and policy makers to better understand and advance current research on parent-offspring relations to improve the identification of risk and protective factors, and to eventually develop suitable (preventive) interventions.

Leonard Frach
University College London

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Causal inference methods for intergenerational research using observational data., Psychological Review, April 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/rev0000419.
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