Income-Related Gaps in School Readiness in the U.S.and the UK: An Analysis of the Mediating Factors

Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University
Elizabeth Washbrook, University of Bristol

This paper documents the income-related gaps in school readiness among two recent nationally representative cohorts of children from the U.S. and the UK. We show that substantial differences in cognitive ability are apparent in preschool in both countries. We then conduct a decomposition of these income-related differences, with the aim of identifying the reasons that low-income children fall behind and the areas in which interventions may potentially be most effective. Factors we consider are demographic characteristics, parenting behaviors, maternal and child health and exposure to child care settings. Contrasting the relative importance of these factors across the two countries allows us to draw some conclusions as to whether the drivers of low-income children’s deficits are common, despite the very different public policy environments in the UK and the U.S.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 39: Public Policy and Child Outcomes