Socioeconomic disparities in neurocognitive development in the first two years of life

Dev Psychobiol. 2015 Jul;57(5):535-51. doi: 10.1002/dev.21303. Epub 2015 Mar 30.


Socioeconomic status (SES) is strongly associated with cognition and achievement. Socioeconomic disparities in language and memory skills have been reported from elementary school through adolescence. Less is known about the extent to which such disparities emerge in infancy. Here, 179 infants from socioeconomically diverse families were recruited. Using a cohort-sequential design, 90 infants were followed at 9 and 15 months, and 89 were followed at 15 and 21 months. SES disparities in developmental trajectories of language and memory were present such that, at 21 months of age, children of highly educated parents scored approximately .8 standard deviations higher in both language and memory than children of less educated parents. The home language and literacy environment and parental warmth partially accounted for disparities in language, but not memory development.

Keywords: cognitive development; infancy; language; memory; socioeconomic status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Socioeconomic Factors*