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Choosing Our Future: A Story of Opportunity in America

Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution

Source: Educational Testing Service


Isabel Sawhill: Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

So you start out getting a certain amount of human capital within the family itself when you're very young before you ever enter school. I think that we now know that, even by age 4 or 5, children from higher income, better educated families have a lot more human capital than those from less educated or less fortunate families. That's because they're interacting with parents whose style is to talk to their children a lot, to expose them to lots of interesting and new experiences, and they are at the stage in their life when their brain is developing very rapidly and when they're absorbing everything. By age 4 or 5 there are big gaps between children from more and less privileged backgrounds. By the way, the parenting styles ... we have a lot of interesting new research now on parenting differences between better off and less fortunate families. They are big and they are important and they have long-term impacts.