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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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Listed:
  • Bradbury, Bruce

    () (University of New South Wales)

  • Corak, Miles

    () (CUNY Graduate Center)

  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bradbury, Bruce & Corak, Miles & Waldfogel, Jane & Washbrook, Elizabeth, 2011. "Inequality during the Early Years: Child Outcomes and Readiness to Learn in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and United States," IZA Discussion Papers 6120, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6120
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Almond, Douglas & Currie, Janet, 2011. "Human Capital Development before Age Five," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    2. Currie, Janet & Stabile, Mark, 2006. "Child mental health and human capital accumulation: The case of ADHD," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1094-1118, November.
    3. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. repec:pri:cheawb:case_and_paxson_early_life_health_w15637.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2010. "Causes and consequences of early-life health," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(1), pages 65-85, March.
    6. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    7. 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. Zlata Bruckauf & Yekaterina Chzhen & UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2016. "Poverty and Children’s Cognitive Trajectories: Evidence from the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study," Papers inwopa839, Innocenti Working Papers.
    2. Katie Bates & Laura Lane & Anne Power & Nicola Serle, 2013. "CASE Annual Report 2012," CASE Reports casereport76, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    5. Lee, RaeHyuck & Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne & Han, Wen-Jui & Waldfogel, Jane & Zhai, Fuhua, 2014. "Is participation in Head Start associated with less maternal spanking for boys and girls?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 55-63.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; socio-economic inequalities; children;

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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