Education and the Poor

Lisa Barrow and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

in The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Poverty

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780195393781
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Education and the Poor

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  • Health, Education, and Welfare



This article presents a basic theoretic framework to explain differences in educational inputs and outcomes. Using several data sets, it documents wide disparities in educational outcomes (educational attainment, test scores, and cognitive skills). As income rises, educational outcomes improve. Highly aggregated measures of school inputs indicate small differences according to income. Average spending per pupil, measured at the school district level, is approximately the same for nonpoor students and for free-lunch students. Average class sizes are also approximately the same across high- and low-poverty schools. The big differences across high- and low-poverty schools are in teacher characteristics, facilities, and school crime rates. Low-poverty schools have more experienced teachers, less teacher turnover, fewer crimes, and more specialized facilities. Parental educational attainment and time spent with children are positively correlated with income. These input differences significantly impact outcome differences. Policies designed to address differences in educational inputs and outcomes are reviewed.

Keywords: poverty; education policy; educational inputs; educational outcomes; schools; parental educational attainment

Article.  12191 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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