Prof. Thorsten Schneider, Ph.D. is professor at the Institute for Sociology at the University of Leipzig. His research areas include social and ethnic inequalities in educational opportunities, as well as intergenerational relations and family issues and methods of longitudinal research.
Abstract: Language skills play an important role in educational outcomes, but gaps in language skills by socio-economic status (SES) are already evident before children enter school, and these gaps may grow or decline over time. After discussing mechanisms of cumulative advantages (“Matthew effects”) and compensatory effects as well as the relevance of cultural capital and child-related activities in families, this paper tests mechanisms behind changing SES gaps in children’s language skills from age 5 to 9 in Germany. Analyzing data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) with growth curve models, we find widening SES gaps in children’s vocabulary. Children of mothers with low educational attainment show a far below-average increase in skills. At the age of 5, the vocabulary skills of these children lag on average one year behind children from families in which mothers have high educational attainment, and this gap doubles in the following four years. The findings are in line with cumulative advantage by status, although initial skills predict their growth over time as well. There are no signs of any type of compensatory effects. To some extent SES gaps in vocabulary skills at age 5 and later are attributable to household possessions and family activities. Reading aloud to children appears to substantially impact and mediate SES differences in vocabulary progress.
When? Friday, February 7, 2020 | 11 am – 1 pm
Where? Leipzig University, Marschnerstraße 31, House 3, Room 301, D-04109 Leipzig