There is a well-established socioeconomic gradient in cognitive test scores for children. This gradient emerges at very early ages and there is also some evidence that it can widen as children age. We investigate this phenomenon with two longitudinal cohorts of Irish children who take such tests at ages ranging from 9 months to 17 years, using maternal education and equivalised income as our measure of socioeconomic resources. The gradient is observed from about 3 years and there is some tentative evidence that it widens as children get older. We have evidence on a wide range of tests and there is some evidence that the gradient is slightly stronger for tests involving crystalised as opposed to fluid intelligence. Exploiting the longitudinal nature of the data, we also investigate mobility across the distribution of test scores and there is some evidence that such mobility is less among poorer children raising the disturbing possibility that such children could become trapped in low achievement.
Socioeconomics gradient cognitive test score achievement gap