High-five for early education. AP Photo/David Duprey

Children in low-income households are far less likely to attend preschool.

In US households that earn $100,000 or more per year, 64% of children age three or four attend preschool. In US households making less than $50,000, only 40% of kids are getting education before kindergarten. That’s a 24 percentage-point difference.

A few caveats to the data, which come from the Quality Counts report (pdf) out today from the Education Week Research Center: the figures are based on an analysis of American Community Survey data from 2008 to 2012, which was self-reported. So the data were collected from families, not school districts. Also, the data were collected in a period that included a severe recession, which may have influenced outcomes—for instance, higher unemployment may have kept some parents home or altered some households’ financial circumstances in ways that affected their decisions about preschool enrollment or childcare in general.

One reason that children in low-income households are less likely to attend preschool may be that early education is much more privatized than other grades, says Christopher Swanson, the vice president of Editorial Projects in Education, which publishes Education Week and the Quality Counts report.

Early education has become a hot topic in the US in recent years, emerging as a buzzword for President Obama and dominating the early part of New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s term, when he made universal prekindergarten the centerpiece of his agenda. (The Quality Counts report does not differentiate between preschool and prekindergarten).

It is well established that children from high income families fare better in life, scoring higher on standardized tests and getting more college degrees and thus more and higher-paying jobs. People agree less, however, on the long-term effects of preschool, with opponents of state- and federally-funded preschool programs citing the lack of large-scale data proving its benefits. Long-term studies, which are few and limited in scope, do suggest that differences in academic achievement tend to fade out, but that children who attend preschool see a long-lasting impact in the form of school completion, higher earnings, and lower incarceration rates compared with their counterparts.

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

MORE FROM QUARTZ:

Yes, Flu Season Is Worse This Year

What Muslim Scholars Have to Say About the Charlie Hebdo Attack

This Startup Wants to Beat Amazon By Rejecting Its Confrontational Culture

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a WeWork office building
    Life

    What WeWork’s Demise Could Do to NYC Real Estate

    The troubled coworking company is the largest office tenant in New York City. What happens to the city’s commercial real estate market if it goes under?

  2. Life

    Why Do Instagram Playgrounds Keep Calling Themselves Museums?

    The bustling industry of immersive, Instagram-friendly experiences has put a new spin on the word museum.

  3. a photo of Extinction Rebellion climate change protesters in London
    Environment

    When Climate Activists Target Public Transit

    The climate protest movement Extinction Rebellion is facing a backlash after disrupting commuters on the London Underground.

  4. Uber Eats worker
    Life

    The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive

    As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.

  5. a photo of cyclists riding beside a streetcar in the Mid Market neighborhood in San Francisco, California.
    Transportation

    San Francisco’s Busiest Street Is Going Car-Free

    A just-approved plan will redesign Market Street to favor bikes, pedestrians, and public transit vehicles. But the vote to ban private cars didn’t happen overnight.

×