How do Socioeconomic Attainment Gaps in Early Mathematical Ability Arise?

Ella James-Brabham*, Toni Loveridge, Francesco Sella, Paul Wakeling, Daniel Carroll, Emma Blakey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Socioeconomic attainment gaps in mathematical ability are evident before children begin school, and widen over time. Little is known about why early attainment gaps emerge. Two cross-sectional correlational studies were conducted in 2018–2019 with socioeconomically diverse preschoolers, to explore four factors that might explain why attainment gaps arise: working memory, inhibitory control, verbal ability, and frequency of home mathematical activities (N = 304, 54% female; 84% White, 10% Asian, 1% black African, 1% Kurdish, 4% mixed ethnicity). Inhibitory control and verbal ability emerged as indirect factors in the relation between socioeconomic status and mathematical ability, but neither working memory nor home activities did. We discuss the implications this has for future research to understand, and work towards narrowing attainment gaps.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1550-1565
Number of pages16
JournalChild Development
Issue number6
Early online date30 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2023

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