Children who spend more time with their parents do better in school compared to those who do not get such care, a study has shown.
The study released yesterday by researchers at Hebrew and Ohio state universities shows that the time parents spend with their children has a powerful effect on their educational achievements.
The researchers analysed data on children in Israel who lost a parent through death or divorce.
It showed that the longer the absence of a parent in a child's life, the bigger the negative impact on their educational success.
The study published in the Journal of Labour Economics and National Bureau of Economic Research involved 22,000 children who lost a parent before age 18, 77,000 whose parents divorced and 600,000 who did not experience parental death or divorce.
"In the ongoing debate over what helps children succeed academically, we show that genetics is not the only major factor. It is also about the time that parents spend with their children," said Bruce Weinberg of Ohio State University, who co-authored the study.
"Students' success is not coming just from smart parents having smart children," said Prof Weinberg.
The researchers rejected the argument that a parent's income is what helps children succeed academically.
If that were so, they argued, then losing a father should hurt children academically more than losing a mother because fathers tend to earn more.
Overall, the study shows the effects of losing a parent were stronger on girls than on boys. "Similar results were also found with children whose parents have divorced. The educational level of the mother - whom the child typically spends a lot of time with - had a larger effect on the child's academic success than did the educational level of the father," Weinberg said.