Saturday, February 11, 2012

Income Gap? Or Something Else?


The Education blogs have been abuzz with a story from the New York Times about the growing income gap in educational outcomes. While the racial gap is steadily shrinking, the gap between rich and poor has been growing.  Is it IQ? Selective mating? Extra curricular activities? Better school districts? Or is it something else.  According to the Times (emphasis mine),

One reason for the growing gap in achievement, researchers say, could be that wealthy parents invest more time and money than ever before in their children (in weekend sports, ballet, music lessons, math tutors, and in overall involvement in their children’s schools), while lower-income families, which are now more likely than ever to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and resources. This has been particularly true as more parents try to position their children for college, which has become ever more essential for success in today’s economy.

Is it really an income gap? Or is it just the marriage gap in a different form? More educated parents are more likely to earn high incomes. They’re also less likely to bear children out of wedlock or to divorce. Single parents are more likely to live in poverty, and the children of single parents are more likely to remain poor.  The problem may not be a lack of cultural opportunities or summer enrichment programs. It may just be the lack of fathers.