Socioeconomic, Racial, and Gender Gaps in Children's Social/Behavioral Skills: Do They Grow Faster in School or Out?

34 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2017

See all articles by Douglas B. Downey

Douglas B. Downey

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Sociology

Joseph Workman

University of Missouri at Kansas City

Paul von Hippel

University of Texas at Austin - Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

Date Written: August 15, 2017

Abstract

Children’s social and behavioral skills differ considerably by socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity, and gender, yet it is unclear to what degree these differences are due to school or non-school factors. We observe how gaps in social and behavioral skills change during school and non-school periods from the start of kindergarten entry until the end of second grade in a recent and nationally representative sample of over 16,000 children (the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study — Kindergarten Cohort of 2010-11). We find that large gaps in social and behavioral skills exist at the start of kindergarten entry, and these gaps favor high-SES, white, and female children. But over the next three years the gaps grow no faster when school is in than when school is out. As evidence from school year-summer comparisons mounts, the notion that schools are a pernicious institution exacerbating inequality is increasingly difficult to maintain. In the case of social and behavioral skills, it appears that schools neither exacerbate inequality nor reduce it.

Suggested Citation

Downey, Douglas B. and Workman, Joseph and von Hippel, Paul, Socioeconomic, Racial, and Gender Gaps in Children's Social/Behavioral Skills: Do They Grow Faster in School or Out? (August 15, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3044923 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3044923

Douglas B. Downey (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Sociology ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210-1172
United States

Joseph Workman

University of Missouri at Kansas City ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

Paul Von Hippel

University of Texas at Austin - Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs ( email )

2315 Red River, Box Y
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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