Socioeconomic status is measured primarily based on the factors of income, educational attainment and occupation. Current investigations into the role of socioeconomic factors on child development repeatedly show that continual poverty is more harmful on IQ, and cognitive abilities than short-lived poverty. Children in families who experience persistent financial hardships and poverty have significantly impaired cognitive abilities compared to those in families who do not face this issue. Low income poverty can cause a number of further issues shown to effect child development, such as malnutrition and lead poisoning due to lead paint found on the walls of some houses. Child blood levels of lead increase as income decreases. Income poverty is associated with a 6-13 point reduction in IQ for those earning half of the poverty threshold compared to those earning twice the poverty threshold. That being said, children coming from households featuring continual or temporary poverty still perform lower than children in middle class families.
Parental educational attainment is the most significant socioeconomic factor in predicting the child’s cognitive abilities, those with a mother with high IQ are likely to have higher IQs themselves. Similarly, maternal occupation is associated with better cognitive achievement. Those whose mothers’ job entails problem-solving are more likely to be given stimulating tasks and games, and are likely to achieve more advanced verbal competency.
Poverty-stricken children are subjected to fewer stimulating recreational activities, often missing out on trips to libraries or museums, and are unable to access a tutor to help with problem academic areas.
A further factor in a child’s educational attainment involves the school environment, more specifically teacher expectations and attitudes. It has been argued that teachers perceive low-SES children as being less academically able and as such provide them with less attention and reinforcement.
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“The censorship method ... is that of handing the job over to some frail and erring mortal man, and making him omnipotent on the assumption that his official status will make him infallible and omniscient.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)