New research shows that kids from wealthier homes feel more in control of their lives. Um, yeah. We pretty much could have guessed that. So what did scientists find out that we already didn’t know? Check out what researchers from Portland State University found out after reviewed data from 16,450 eighth graders.
The data used in this study came from the National Education Longitudinal Study (in 1988 and 1990). PSU researchers looked at specific aspects of the children’s socioeconomic status, such as family income, parental occupation and parental education. More specifically, they looked at this data in reference to which of these factors may have the highest degree of influence over the child’s feelings that they have the ability to control their own lives.
Not so surprisingly, the researchers found that children who came from families of higher socioeconomic status had an increased sense of control over their lives. Between additional resources in the home, feeling safer at school, having parents who are more likely to talk about school and having friends who are academically oriented, it’s no wonder why these kiddos feel a sense of control. Compare these benefits with what children from less privileged families experience.
Depending on the family’s finances, children might have to deal with food insecurity, under-performing schools or even safety issues in their immediate neighborhoods. These—and other similar issues that affect families with lower socioeconomic status disproportionately—can provoke anxiety and add stress to a child’s life. The heightened stress that comes with poverty can lead children to feel like they have little control over their own lives.
So what does this all mean? Well, a lot of things, depending on how you interpret the data and what you use it for. In a “big picture” sense, these findings indicate how socioeconomic status can affect children well beyond their childhood years, all based on how much economic privilege a family has—or doesn’t.
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