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How a Changing Economy and Increased Family Income Inequality Reduce Life Chances for Children from Low-Income

Social Sciences Conference November 13, 2017 Madrid

General information

Venue: Fundación Ramón Areces, C/ Vitruvio, 5. 28006. Madrid
Limited capacity

  • Free registration

Organized by:

Fundación Ramón Areces

In cooperation with:

Fundación Europea Sociedad y Educación

  • Description
  • Programme

Changes in the economy of the United States over the last several decades have increased the labor market demand for the combination of analytic and social skills. Increasing family income inequality has made it more difficult for children from low-income families to acquire these critical skills necessary for labor market success and upward economic mobility. Three types of mechanisms contribute to this disturbing pattern.

  • First, the gap in spending on child enrichment between high- and low-income families has increased markedly
  • Second, residential segregation by income has increased, especially among families with school-age children
  • Third, school segregation by income has increased substantially

A result of these patterns is that children from low-income families increasingly grow up in high-poverty neighborhoods and attend schools in which their classmates are also from low-income families. These patterns make it extremely difficult for schools serving high concentrations of students from low-income families to provide the education that increases their students' life chances. The talk will conclude with a brief video illustrating both the challenges high-poverty schools face and strategies educators have adopted to overcome these challenges.

Monday, 3


How a Changing Economy and Increased Family Income Inequality Reduce Life Chances for Children from Low-Income Families

Richard Murnane
University of Harvard.

Richard Murnane:  he is an economist, is the Thompson Research Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. With Greg Duncan, Murnane has examined the respects in which the growth in family income inequality in the U.S. has affected educational opportunities for children from low-income families and the effectiveness of alternative strategies for improving life chances for these children. This project has resulted in two major publications: the 2011 edited volume, Whither Opportunity, and the 2014 book, Restoring Opportunity. One of Murnane's current research projects (with Stanford sociologist Sean Reardon) examines whether trends in the use of different types of private schools by low- and higher-income families contributed to the recent increase in income-based gaps in educational outcomes. Another (with John Willett and Emiliana Vegas) examines how changes in the system of educational vouchers in Chile have influenced the distribution of students across schools and the distribution of student achievement.

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