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Income-Related Gaps in Early Child Cognitive Development: Why Are They Larger in the United States Than in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
Early online date28 Nov 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 10 Jul 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 28 Nov 2018


Previous research has documented significantly larger income-related gaps in children’s early cognitive development in the US compared to the UK, Canada and Australia This paper investigates the extent to which this is a result of a more unequal income distribution in the US. We show that, although incomes are more unequal in the US than elsewhere, nevertheless a given differential in real income is associated with larger gaps in child test scores there than in the three other countries. In particular, high-income families in the US appear to translate the same amount of financial resources into greater cognitive advantages relative to the middle income group than those in the other countries. We compare inequalities in other kinds of family characteristics and show that higher income levels are disproportionately concentrated among families with advantageous demographic characteristics in the US. Our results underline the fact that the same degree of income inequality can translate into different disparities in child development depending on the distribution of other family resources.

    Research areas

  • child development, school readiness, parental income, cross-national, social mobility



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    Licence: CC BY


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