Intergenerational Inequality and Educational Consequences of Health Disparity


An increasing amount of research indicates that society is more rigid than was understood in intra- and inter-generational mobility (Bowles, Durlauf, & Hoff 2006; Bowles, Gintis, & Osborne 2005; Mazumder 2005). This research has been complemented with investigations that reveal the meaningful contribution that intergenerational social and economic inequality has on differences in academic achievement (Dixon-Román 2007; Grant 2005; Kalil, Patillo, & Payne 2004; Mandara, Greene, & Varner 2006; Miller 1995; Najman, Aird, Bor, O’Callaghan, Williams, and Shuttlewood 2004; Phillips, Brooks-Gunn, Duncan, Klebanov & Crane 1998). While helpful, only one of these studies modeled historical socioeconomic inequality (Dixon-Román 2007) and no study to date has examined how disparities in health and health care might mediate the cumulative effect of intergenerational socioeconomic status on differences in learning and development. In particular, does a familial social history of persistent poverty increase the likelihood of exposure to lead, sleep deprivation, low birth weight, malnutrition, poor immunization records, lack of access to health care and insurance, and parents with chronic illnesses and substance abuse problems? To what extent do these factors of health and health care meaningfully account for the race, gender, and class differences in learning and development? Moreover, to what extent do these health-related factors account for the race, gender, and class differences in the growth of math and reading achievement over and above the cumulative effect of familial social history? The purpose of this research is to examine the cumulative effects of intergenerational and historical inequality on race, gender, and class differences in health and, consequently, learning and development.

Funded By: 
Award Dates: 
July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2010
PARC Grant Year: 
Year 16