Income Inequality, Schooling, and Educational Outcomes

October 24, 2012

Income inequality among the families of school-aged children in the US has grown sharply over the last 40 years. How has rising income inequality affected patterns of educational outcomes?

In this seminar Sean Reardon from Stanford University will addresses this question. First, he will describe trends in the “income-achievement gap” (the test score gap between children from low and high income families). The evidence shows that the association between income and achievement has grown by 40 percent in recent decades, while the association between race and achievement has held steady or even declined. Second, he will describe trends in the relationship between family income and the quality of colleges in which students enroll. The evidence here suggests that income has become more predictive of college quality over time, largely because of the growing association between income and academic achievement. Third, he will present international data that show that the income-achievement gap is largest in countries with the greatest inequality, including the U.S. Reardon will conclude his presentation with some discussion of the reasons for the widening income-achievement gap, and its implications for California.