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Seven-year-olds who have lived in poverty since infancy
perform substantially worse in a range of ability tests than those
who have never been poor. This is even when family
circumstances and parenting skills are taken into account. This is
according to research published by the Institute of Education,
University of London, this week.
On a scale of 0-100, a child who has been in persistent poverty
will rank 10 levels below an otherwise similar child who has no
early experience of poverty.
The researchers found that poverty - especially persistent
poverty - has a greater impact on cognitive development than
factors such as parents reading to their children, taking to the
library or helping them with reading, writing and maths. The study
also shows that being poor can adversely affect parents' ability to
take an active role in their children's learning, which further
affects their scores.
Across early childhood, persistent poverty is worse for
children's cognitive development than intermittent poverty. For
children who had been poor at only one point since birth, it was
being born into poverty that had the most detrimental effects on
cognitive development, whereas recent episodes of poverty had the
Read the Institute of
Education press release (link opens in a new window)
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