Jul 26

Study links Great Recession to growing skills gap in high-poverty neighborhoods

A new study of the impact of poverty on education following the Great Recession finds a growing skills gap in high-poverty neighborhoods.

The study – conducted in part by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison – found that children from the highest poverty neighborhoods start school almost a year behind children from the lowest poverty neighborhoods in terms of their academic skills.

“In addition, we find that the academic skills gap between poor- and non-poor children within neighborhood poverty categories grew from 1998 to 2010, particularly in high poverty neighborhoods. These findings appear to be explained both by changes in the composition of families within neighborhood poverty categories and income increases among non-poor families. The findings indicate that neighborhood poverty may be a useful proxy to identify children and families in need of additional support.”

Highlights of the study include:
  • The percent of kindergarteners in high poverty neighborhoods grew from 1998 to 2010.
  • Children in high poverty neighborhoods are less school ready than their peers.
  • The family poverty academic skills gap in higher poverty neighborhoods also grew.
  • Neighborhood poverty may be a useful proxy to identify children in need of support.

Read a summary in Education Week: