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Inequality begins in the crib: Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong

This article explores the myth of meritocracy and paints a clear picture of how poverty creates systemic barriers to achieving health and well-being.   

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This article, "Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong," written by Matt O'Brien, was found here at the Washington Post.

America is the land of opportunity, just for some more than others.

That's because, in large part, inequality starts in the crib. Rich parents can afford to spend more time and money on their kids, and that gap has only grown the past few decades. Indeed, economists Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane calculate that, between 1972 and 2006, high-income parents increased their spending on "enrichment activities" for their children by 151 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to 57 percent for low-income parents.

But, of course, it's not just a matter of dollars and cents. It's also a matter of letters and words. Affluent parents talk to their kids three more hours a week on average than poor parents, which is critical during a child's formative early years. That's why, as Stanford professor Sean Reardon explains, "rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students," and they're staying that way.

"rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students," and they're staying that way.

It's an educational arms race that's leaving many kids far, far behind.

It's depressing, but not nearly so much as this:

Even poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong. Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves. You can see that in the above chart, based on a new paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's annual conference, which is underway.

"Even poor kids who do everything right don't do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong. Advantages and disadvantages, in other words, tend to perpetuate themselves."

Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16 percent, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne'er-do-wells. Some meritocracy.

Continue reading the article here: Matt O'Brien, "Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong," Washington Post, Oct. 18th, 2014. 

Showing 3 reactions

  • commented 2016-12-03 06:59:02 -0600
    This has and always will be true unless people have equal opportunity. And, you don’t have equal opportunity without equal conditions.
  • followed this page 2016-07-29 13:27:05 -0600
  • published this page in At Work 2014-11-02 20:59:48 -0600
Connect upstream.