Socio-economic inequality in childhood and beyond: an overview of challenges and findings from comparative analyses of cohort studies

Jane Waldfogel


The growing number of countries with large child cohort studies offers an unprecedented opportunity for comparative research. A topic of central interest in my research is, to what extent the sizable gaps in development that exist between children from different socio-economic status (SES) groups in the US are also present in other countries, and to what extent the mechanisms explaining these gaps are similar or different across countries.  This overview draws on the results of comparative analyses of birth cohort study data collected in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, to illustrate the challenges that arise in carrying out this kind of research and the way these challenges were met – in particular those having to do with data access and comparability, and those having to do with causal inference. I conclude that this type of research also offers great promise as shown by findings on SES gaps in child development in the four countries.

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