Inequality Begins at Home: The Role of Parenting in the Diverging Destinies of Rich and Poor Children

  • Ariel Kalil
Part of the National Symposium on Family Issues book series (NSFI, volume 5)


Children face very different chances of getting ahead in life depending on the circumstances of their birth. Parenting and its role in the diverging destinies of rich and poor children are discussed in this chapter. Inequality begins at home. It develops from the myriad differences in the ways advantaged and disadvantaged parents interact with their children. Traditional policy interventions fail to attack the root cause of achievement gaps. To equalize the playing field, governments may need to invest in parents so parents can better invest in their children. Unfortunately, large-scale parenting interventions typically yield modest effect sizes at best and often do not even change children’s skills in the long term. Understanding what motivates parents to invest in their children could have a major impact on the design of policies to reduce inequality in children’s skill development. Insights from the field of behavioral economics can inform this question.


Home Literacy Environment Home Learning Environment Childcare Time Advantage Parent Professional Family 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I thank Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Greg Duncan, Susan Mayer, and Rebecca Ryan for comments on this chapter and for numerous discussions that shaped the ideas herein.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Human Potential and Public Policy, Harris School of Public Policy StudiesUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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