Childcare, Early Education and Social Inequality
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Childcare, Early Education and Social Inequality

An International Perspective

Edited by Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Nevena Kulic, Jan Skopek and Moris Triventi

Recognising that social change over recent decades has strengthened the need for early childhood education and care, this book seeks to answer what role this plays in creating and compensating for social inequalities in educational attainment.
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Chapter 5: The emergence of social disparities – Evidence on early mother–child interaction and infant development from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS)

Sabine Weinert, Manja Attig and Hans-Günther Roßbach


Social disparities emerge rather early in development and are well documented when children are three years of age. The present chapter focuses on their early roots and emergence using data of a German large-scale infant cohort study (first assessment wave) when children were about six to eight months of age. Drawing on a bio-ecological model of child development, the chapter reports on analyses of social disparities in the home-learning environment, i.e. the quality of mother’s interaction behaviour, on the one hand, and social disparities in various indicators of early child development (e.g. sensorimotor development, information processing, child characteristics in mother–child interaction) on the other. As expected the child’s and mother’s behaviour in mother–child interaction proved to be highly interrelated; however, social disparities were mainly observable in the mother’s behaviour and hardly any in early child development.

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