Postdoc grant: Birth outcome, school performance and socio-economic background: Reproduction of socio-economic inequalities across generations and life courses

Project leader

Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2009
End date: 31/12/2010
Funding: 1360000 SEK


The overall aim of the project is to address the question of how birth outcome may interact with parental socioeconomic status to influence school performance, cognitive ability and attained educational level.

It is well known that social background influences academic achievements such as school marks and attained educational level. Children with more well-educated parents achieve higher grades in school, but also if comparing with other children with the same grades they go on to higher education to a greater extent.

Social inequalities also result in inequality in health across the life course. Children to families with lower socioeconomic status have a higher risk of more disadvantaged birth outcomes such as low birth weight and preterm birth. Research on social inequalities is mainly sociological, but epidemiological research has shown that children with more disadvantaged birth outcomes generally achieve lower cognitive scores and go on to higher education to a lesser extent than other children.

How socioeconomic status and birth outcomes influence academic achievements has hitherto mainly been researched separately by different fields of research. In this project, I explore both these dimensions to see how they might interact.

An interesting result that has been yielded so far concerns grade in Swedish in ninth grade 9 at the age of 15/16. The likelihood of achieving a high grade in Swedish was lower for children born preterm, but only if none of their parents had at least three years of gymnasium (article forthcoming in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health).

In addition to this I would like to explore to what extent socioeconomic and birth differences in school achievement are mediated by educational aspirations and cognitive ability. The available data material also allows comparisons over time, which is interesting to study because when society changes, the mechanisms of reproduction of inequalities most likely change too.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:53