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Socioeconomic gradients in children's cognitive skills: are cross-country comparisons robust to who reports family background

Jerrim, J; Micklewright, J; (2014) Socioeconomic gradients in children's cognitive skills: are cross-country comparisons robust to who reports family background. European Sociological Review , 30 (6) pp. 766-781. 10.1093/esr/jcu072. Green open access

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Abstract

The international surveys of pupil achievement—Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)—have been widely used to compare socio-economic gradients in children’s cognitive abilities across countries. Socio-economic status is typically measured drawing on children’s reports of family or home characteristics rather than information provided by their parents. There is a well-established literature based on other survey sources on the measurement error that may result from child reports. But there has been little work on the implications for the estimation of socioeconomic gradients in test scores in the international surveys, and especially their variation across countries. In this article, we use the PISA and PIRLS data sets to investigate the consistency of parent and child reports of three common socio-economic indicators (father’s occupation, parental education, and the number of books in the family home) across a selection of OECD countries. Our results suggest that children’s reports of their father’s occupation provide a reliable basis on which to base comparisons across countries in socio-economic gradients in reading test scores. The same is not true, however, for children’s reports of the number of books in the home—a measure commonly used—while results for parental education are rather mixed.

Type: Article
Title: Socioeconomic gradients in children's cognitive skills: are cross-country comparisons robust to who reports family background
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/esr/jcu072
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/esr/jcu072
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: educational inequality, social mobility, measurement error, PISA, PIRLS
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1519645
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