How Do Gender and Income Affect Kids’ Futures?
It is widely accepted that the important building blocks for our social and educational success are laid down in early childhood.
Boys and girls—and later, men and women—are different. They choose different fields of study in school and gravitate toward different careers. But what’s less clear is why. There have been suggestions these differences reflect the way society points women toward certain choices and sometimes discriminates against them. Others suggest that sex differences are biological.
Dr. Michael Baker, Canada Research Chair in Economics, Child Development and Public Policy, is charting a new path on this issue. Baker is leading a comprehensive study of environmental and developmental inputs that are provided to young children by their gender. He will then relate these differences to cognitive, behavioural and economic outcomes for these same children later in life. The aim is to determine whether children are being provided with different environments and, if so, whether these differences matter in how they fare down the line.
Baker is also exploring whether the relationship between early childhood developmental delays and cognitive, behavioural and economic achievement at older ages differs according to family income and socioeconomic status. The benefits of early childhood education for disadvantaged children are well-known, but it is not known whether these benefits also accrue to more advantaged children.
Baker’s research could have major implications for investment in and design of early childhood education programs. His findings will also help us understand the role of gender differences in life outcomes.