The Influence of Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Low Birth Weight on Child Academic Achievement

Bridget J. Goosby, University of Michigan
Jacob E. Cheadle, University of Michigan

Drawing on a sample from multiple waves of data from the ECLS-K, we examine the impact of birth weight (BW), socioeconomic status, and family background characteristics on children’s human capital formation. We ask the following questions: 1) To what extent is BW related to children’s academic achievement at kindergarten entry? 2) Do these disadvantages persist or accumulate over time? 3) Is the relationship between BW and achievement the result of more general patterns of inequality, and (4) does inequality exacerbate BW disparities? Preliminary analyses using free-loading multilevel latent curve models suggest that (a) BW is associated with both math and reading at kindergarten entry, (b) the gaps grow over time, and (c) the deficits are independent of family circumstances. In the future we plan to incorporate BW-social context interactions to gain further insight into the role of childhood health and social disadvantage in producing educational inequalities for at-risk populations.

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Presented in Poster Session 5