Inequality in Child Development across the Early School Years in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States

Bruce Bradbury, University of New South Wales
Miles Corak, Université d'Ottawa
Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University
Elizabeth Washbrook, University of Bristol

Evidence from the US suggests that achievement gaps by parental income or education are substantial at school entry and then widen during the school years. This paper uses data from child cohort studies in Australia, Canada, UK, and US to examine how these US patterns of socio-economic gradients compare with those in similar countries and what these other countries do to mitigate inequality. The countries selected for the analysis share some common features but also present distinct policy contexts and thus offer contrasting cases to the US. The paper examines three key questions: 1) whether socio-economic gradients widen or diminish as children move through the school years, 2) how these patterns vary across the four countries and whether that variation is associated with cross-country differences in policies, resources, and/or institutions, and 3) how these patterns vary by gender and the position of the child in the ability distribution

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Presented in Session 185: Socioeconomic Status, Inequality, and Child Well-Being