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Inequality during the Early Years: Child Outcomes and Readiness to Learn in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and United States

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Author Info

  • Bradbury, Bruce

    ()
    (University of New South Wales)

  • Corak, Miles

    ()
    (University of Ottawa)

  • Waldfogel, Jane

    ()
    (Columbia University)

  • Washbrook, Elizabeth

    ()
    (University of Bristol)

Abstract

This study of the emergence of inequality during the early years is based upon a comparative analysis of children at the age of about five years in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. We study a series of child outcomes related to readiness to learn, focusing on vocabulary development and externalizing behavior. Our major findings are three in number. First, significant inequalities in child capacities emerge even in these early years in all four countries but the disparities are notably greater in the United States and the United Kingdom than in Australia, and particularly in Canada. Second, large differences in cognitive outcomes exist in all countries between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and the mainstream and these are of similar magnitudes across countries. Differences across countries in the overall disparity between cognitive outcomes of the least and most advantaged, therefore, largely reflect variation in the degree to which children at the top of the SES distribution out-perform those in the middle. Third, disparities in social and behavioral development are markedly smaller than in cognitive outcomes and differ from cognitive outcomes in their association with SES across countries. While the smallest SES gaps are found in Australia and Canada for both types of outcome, differences in cognitive outcomes are greatest in the US, while differences in behavioral outcomes are greatest in the UK.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6120.

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Length: 64 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: John Ermisch, Markus Jantti, and Timothy Smeeding (editors). From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage. Russell Sage Foundation, 2012.
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6120

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Related research

Keywords: education; socio-economic inequalities; children;

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References

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  1. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  2. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2010. "Causes and Consequences of Early Life Health," NBER Working Papers 15637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2004. "Child Mental Health and Human Capital Accumulation: The Case of ADHD," NBER Working Papers 10435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2010. "Human Capital Development Before Age Five," NBER Working Papers 15827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Corak, Miles & Curtis, Lori & Phipps, Shelley, 2010. "Economic Mobility, Family Background, and the Well-Being of Children in the United States and Canada," IZA Discussion Papers 4814, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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Cited by:
  1. John Jerrim & Anna Vignoles & Ross Finnie, 2012. "University access for disadvantaged children: A comparison across English speaking countries," DoQSS Working Papers 12-11, Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.
  2. Han, Wen-Jui & Lee, RaeHyuck & Waldfogel, Jane, 2012. "School readiness among children of immigrants in the US: Evidence from a large national birth cohort study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 771-782.

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