The contribution of neighborhood and family income to developmental test scores over the first three years of life

Child Dev. 1998 Oct;69(5):1420-36.


The effects of neighborhood and family income and family risk factors on developmental test scores at ages 1 through 3 are examined using a subsample (N = 347) from the Infant Health and Development Program. Beneficial effects of low numbers of risks were found for scores at ages 1 through 3. Family poverty was associated with lower scores at ages 2 and 3. Neighborhood affluence was associated with higher scores at age 3. The family risks-test score association at ages 1 through 3 and family income-test score association at ages 2 and 3 were mediated by home environment. Mediated effects were stronger for family income-test score associations at age 3 than for neighborhood income. Moderating effects of family risk on family and neighborhood income effects revealed an interaction between family poverty and risks for scores at age 3. Explanations for the early links between family risks and test scores and the later links between income and test scores are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environment*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Socioeconomic Factors