Azara Blog: Rich children are already ahead of poor children by the age of three

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Date published: 2007/06/11

The BBC says:

By the age of three, children from disadvantaged homes are up to a year behind in their learning than those from more privileged backgrounds.

Graduates' children were seen to be 12 months ahead of those of the least well educated in tests on their grasp of letters, numbers, colours and shapes.

And disadvantaged children's vocabulary skills were 10 months behind their more advantaged peers, the study added.

The Institute of Education research was based on a survey of 12,000 children.

In the longitudinal study of children born in 2000 to 2002, girls were educationally three months ahead of boys on average.

The poorest children were 10 months behind their wealthier peers in tests of their grasp of shapes, numbers, letters and colours known as "school readiness" tests.

And they were five months behind their wealthier peers in vocabulary tests.
These results will not be a surprise to education experts or government policy advisers who have long known that parents' educational achievement and family income are indicators of a child's educational success.

As the article says, the result is hardly surprising. It would be interesting to know how much of the effect is (directly) genetic, how much is due to middle class parents already intellectually engaging their children from day one (which might be deemed to be an environmental effect but is an indirect genetic effect since the parents of course have produced the kids in the first place), and how much is due to the fact that middle class children, for example, have access to better food. One might be able to disentangle this by looking at adopted children, but this is not clear since people who adopt children might not be average in ways that matter.

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