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Early experience is vital in tackling persistent poverty

Children who are poor but have parents who take an interest in their schooling and read to them when they are young are more likely to pull themselves out of poverty, new research published today shows.

The report, Bucking the Trend, is by Dr Jo Blanden| of the Department of Economics, University of Surrey, and the Centre for Economic Performance at LSE on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. It builds on earlier research showing the importance of work for parents if their children are to break out of cycles of deprivation. She finds that children who live in poverty are more likely to grow up to be poor, with 16-year-olds growing up in a household where no parent works at higher risk of still being in poverty at age 30.

The research's main findings are:

  • For boys having a father with little or no interest in their education reduces their chances of bucking the trend by 25 per cent, and the same can be said of girls and their mothers.
  • Those born in poverty are more likely to better their position if their parents have some qualifications, read to them as children and take an interest in their schooling.
  • Early educational attainment is positively related to avoiding disadvantage in later life. Those who are poor at age 30 are 15 per cent to 20 per cent more likely to have been in the low education group at 16 and have fewer qualifications.
  • The stronger performance of those who go on to escape poverty begins early with observable differences in test scores as young as five.
  • Around 20 per cent of those who are poor at 16 are still poor at 30 compared with only 7 per cent of those who are not poor at age 16, showing the importance of measures against persistent poverty.




  • Emma Pearson, Department of Work and Pensions, tel: 020 7238 0549
  • Dr Jo Blanden, tel: 01483 682770, email j.blanden@lse.ac.uk

16 May 2006