Socio-economic status and cognitive skills of early childhood



This article documents the differences in cognitive development, as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (EVIP), between children from high and low socioeconomic status (SES) households during 2 different stages of early childhood. in 4 developing countries.

A large number of potential mediators, such as urban residence, preschool attendance, early nutrition, caregiver education and primary school attendance are discussed. Overall, the SES gradient is reduced but persists in most countries even after controlling for all mediators. Mediation analysis shows that although urban residence, caregiver education and early nutrition appear to be important mediators of the HSE-EVIP relationship for all countries and most ages, the magnitude of the effect varies considerably. For example, after adding all mediators, the magnitude of the HSE-EVIP relationship decreases by almost half in Peru (mainly due to urban residence), India (mainly due to caregiver education at the age of 5 and urban residence at the age of 8) and in Vietnam at 5 (mainly due to the education of the caregiver). However, it only drops by a third in Ethiopia (mainly due to caregiver education at age 5 and urban residency at age 8). The relative importance of each mediator also varies according to the age of the children. Preschool attendance does not appear to be a minor mediator in Ethiopia and Vietnam until the age of 5, while primary school attendance does not appear to be a major mediator in any country.

This work was supported by Young Lives which is an international study on child poverty, tracking the lives of 12,000 children in 4 countries (Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam) over 15 years. Young Lives is funded by the UK Department for International Development


Florencia Lopez Boo (2016) Socio-economic status and cognitive skills in early childhood: a mediation analysis using the Young Lives panel. International Journal of Behavioral Development, Volume: 40 issue: 6, page (s): 500-508

Socio-economic status and cognitive skills of early childhood


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