Thursday, March 8, 2012

Income and Education as Predictors of Children's School Readiness


This study uses data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Birth (ECLS-B) Cohort to estimate associations between two important indicators of family socioeconomic status—family income and maternal education—and children’s school readiness measured by academic skills, behavior, and physical health at school entry.

The authors find large gaps in our measures of school readiness across groups of children defined by family income and maternal education. Such differences are much smaller, however, when potential confounds are included as controls in regressions.

In multivariate models, the authors find significant, but modest, links between household income and measures of children’s achievement and behavior, but not health. Specifically, our estimates imply that an additional $1,000 of average income throughout early childhood would result in about a 0.015 standard deviation in reading and math scores for children in low-income families, with smaller effects in children’s behaviors.

With respect to maternal education, the authors find higher levels of education predict higher achievement and physical health, but not behavior. Our estimates imply that an additional year of school would increase math and reading scores by 0.06 to 0.09 standard deviations.

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