Poverty up to age 2 worsens school outcomes, finds new Israeli study

Published November 14, 2019

Children who lived in poverty up to age 2 go on to do less well in school, according to new research conducted by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel and funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The same effects are not seen among children who lived in poverty between ages 3 and 5, pointing to the critical importance of the first thousand days as a foundation for later life.

The research paper – Emerging Early Childhood Inequality: Poverty and Future Academic Achievement (also available in Hebrew) – follows on from a literature review published last year and forms the basis for the start of the Initiative on Early Childhood Development and Inequality, a new three-year policy research initiative supported by the Bernard van Leer and partner foundations.

The researchers suggest possible policy responses including a change in the child allowance system to prioritise support for the parents of the youngest children, and more attention to ensuring the quality of childcare – many mothers with very young children work, and only 20% of childcare providers are yet covered by government regulations.

The Taub Center is an independent, non-partisan socioeconomic research institute. It has not previously worked on early childhood. The President of the Taub Center, Professor Avi Weiss, said:

“The findings of this study have implications for policy in Israel; it is important to take steps that address the negative phenomena that can stem from poverty and harm children in their first thousand days.”