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The Development of Inequalities in Child Educational Achievement: A Six Country Study – DICE

The Development of Inequalities in Child Educational Achievement: A Six Country Study project

The project moves beyond cross-sectional and single country snapshots by studying the question of how inequalities develop over time (ages 3 to 16), what factors may influence inequalities and how national context may strengthen or buffer these processes. Child development is conceptualised broadly, to include cognitive, social/emotional and health outcomes, recognizing the interplay of multiple spheres of development in childhood.

This project aims to advance our international understanding of disparities in child development by parental socioeconomic status (SES) embedding them in a harmonized framework.

The specific aims of the project are: 1) to provide new evidence on the extent and sources of inequalities in early childhood and at the start of school, in particular on the role of parenting/home environment and preschool; 2) to describe trajectories of child development, and identify factors such as parental involvement and parent-school interactions that reduce/increase inequalities as children move through primary school; and 3) to describe inequalities at the start of secondary school and analyze trajectories of development, and factors such as school type and tracking that reduce/increase inequalities, as children move through secondary school; allowing throughout for heterogeneous effects across the ability distribution.

In terms of methodology, we will document the unconditional SES gaps in both inputs and child outcomes across developmental stages and countries. We will then use regression-based models to explore how the unconditional SES gaps are explained by the introduction of different predictors. The role of specific factors in accounting for the overall gaps will be quantified via a decomposition technique Washbrook et al. 2014; Waldfogel and Washbrook 2011). A key and novel feature of our approach is the emphasis on developing harmonized definitions of the constructs involved so that identical models can be applied across countries (Bradbury et al. 2015). This approach will allow us to systematically explore stability and difference across countries in the social grading and importance for skill development of different explanatory factors.
In the analyses of trajectories, prior outcomes (e.g. achievement, social/emotional wellbeing, health, as relevant) will be included as predictors. . We will explore directly whether trajectories diverge by SES for children with a common level of prior achievement. Standard regression techniques will also be contrasted with quantile regressions.

Social inequalities in terms of young children's development are evident in France, even if on a slightly smaller scale than in other countries.

At 2 years of age, children's language development is marked by a strong socioeconomic gradient according to the mother's degree or household income.

Children in collective day care at the age of one have a richer vocabulary by the age of two than those in other forms of childcare or who are mainly cared by parents, especially if they come from a disadvantaged background.

Difference between girls and boys : In different areas of child development (language, motor skills and independence) measured at two years of age, girls are consistently advantaged relative to boys, although they have a slight disadvantage in terms of behaviour.

Obesity disparities are already evident at age 3 across a number of countries, including France

Next analysis will provide evidence on inequalities at the start of school (age 5-7), another crucial developmental stage, given that Bradbury et al. (2015) showed that for the four countries analysed, over half of inequalities in secondary school were already present at school entry. Further analysis will examine trajectories in inequalities in primary school (age 5-7 to 9-11). As children move through primary school, do inequalities widen or narrow, and what factors (in particular, parental involvement and parent/school interactions) are associated with different trajectories, and how do these differ across countries?

Berger Lawrence, Panico Lidia, Solaz Anne (2020), “The Impact of Center-Based Childcare Attendance on Early Child Development:Evidence from the French Elfe Cohort”, forthcoming in Demography

Grobon S., Panico L., Solaz A. (2019). Inégalités socioéconomiques dans le développement langagier et moteur des enfants à 2 ans. Bulletin d’Epidémiologie Hebdomadaire, (1): 2-9.

This project aims to advance our understanding of disparities in child development by parental socioeconomic status (SES). It leverages rich cohort and administrative data from six countries - France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States – embedding them in a harmonized framework. The project moves beyond cross-sectional and single country snapshots by studying the question of how inequalities develop over time (ages 3 to 16), what factors may influence inequalities and how national context may strengthen or buffer these processes. Child development is conceptualised broadly, to include cognitive, social/emotional and health outcomes, recognizing the interplay of multiple spheres of development in childhood. The specific aims of the project are: 1) to provide new evidence on the extent and sources of inequalities in early childhood and at the start of school, in particular on the role of parenting/home environment and preschool; 2) to describe trajectories of child development, and identify factors such as parental involvement and parent-school interactions that reduce/increase inequalities as children move through primary school; and 3) to describe inequalities at the start of secondary school and analyze trajectories of development, and factors such as school type and tracking that reduce/increase inequalities, as children move through secondary school; allowing throughout for heterogeneous effects across the ability distribution.

Project coordinator

Madame Anne SOLAZ (INSTITUT NATIONAL D'ETUDES DEMOGRAPHIQUES)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

KEIO UNIVERSITY, Department of Economics
ERASMUS UNIVERSITY OF ROTTERDAM ERASMUS UNIVERSITY OF ROTTERDAM, School of Social Sciences and the Humanities
UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL, School of Education
Universität Bamberg, Lehrstuhl Psychologie I - Entwicklungspsychologie
Universität Leipzig, Institut für Soziologie
INED INSTITUT NATIONAL D'ETUDES DEMOGRAPHIQUES

Help of the ANR 271,957 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2018 - 36 Months

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