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How does child poverty affect behaviour and school achievement?

New analysis published by EIF this month  (Early Invention Foundation) shows that children from less well-off families are more likely to experience emotional and behavioural problems at age 5, and that these problems predict reduced academic attainment later in life. 

It is perhaps not surprising that children with higher levels of social and emotional problems at age 5 do less well in academic assessments at age 10 or 16. What our analysis highlights is that this relationship remains even when we account for family characteristics such as maternal wellbeing and parental education – these two factors together account for about half of the variation in academic attainment.

In short, poor behaviour at age 5 really is associated with lower test scores later on. Or, to put it another way, our analysis provides specific grounds to believe that addressing children’s social and emotional problems at an early age could have educational benefits down the line.

For more on the key findings and his view on how policymakers can respond, read the blogpost by report co-author Tom McBride.