Research shows ‘IQ gap’ for poorer children starts at two

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New research that examines the impact of poverty on children's intelligence has found that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have lower IQ scores on average than their peers.


Research has found that children from deprived backgrounds do less well on IQ tests than their wealthier peers

Research conducted by Goldsmiths, University of London, has found that socio-economic status has a notable effect on a child’s IQ level and is likely to futher increase over time.

Two-year-olds from a deprived background were found to have, on average, an IQ score six points lower than children from high SES families. This difference nearly tripled by the time they reached 16 years of age.

The study, which was published in the psychology journal Intelligence, examined data from 14,853 children and their parents as part of the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). Children were assessed nine times between the ages of two and 16.

Dr Sophie Von Stumm, lecturer at Goldsmiths and leader of the study, said the findings highlighted two important aspects of children’s intelligence. She said, ‘First, children develop their intelligence – in fact, children’s intelligence changes as they grow up. Second, the way in which children’s intelligence develops depends in part on their family background.’

While children from high SES backgrounds continued to develop and improve their IQ scores, Dr Stumm said that results revealed children from more disadvantaged families actually worsened in IQ test performance over time.

‘At present, we can only speculate about the causes for this increase in the IQ gap. Thus in the future, we must focus on identifying ways that help children, especially those from more disadvantaged family backgrounds, to maximize their intelligence growth,’ said Dr Stumm.

Scientists used a range of parent-administered, web and telephone-based tests to examine the children’s IQ level in relationship to their socioeconomic background. The study is part of on-going research into the links between socioeconomics, genetics and intelligence.

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