Home / Early childhood / Data Visualization: Inequality, Parenting and Brain Development

Data Visualization: Inequality, Parenting and Brain Development

1. Parenting Quality by Income Quintile (from the Brookings Institution)

Parenting quality by income quintile

Parenting quality by income quintile

The statistical distribution is almost a perfect correlation between parenting quality and income quintile.

2. Relative Economic (Im)mobility by Income Quintile (from the Pew Charitable Trust)

Forty percent or more of children born into the bottom and top income quintiles are "stuck" there.  They are relatively income immobile.

Forty percent or more of children born into the bottom and top income quintiles are “stuck” there. They are relatively income immobile.

Children in the top and bottom income quintiles are most likely to be income immobile.

3. Brain Development over time (from Harvard Center on the Developing Child)

The period of most rapid synaptic development is the earliest years of life.

The period of most rapid synaptic development is the earliest years of life.

Drawing Conclusions

This is extraordinarily important for anyone who cares about inequality (including the President) and thriving communities. Parenting quality not only correlates with and predicts current income; it also predicts generational income immobility. The top and bottom income quintiles are remarkably “sticky” because the impact of nurture by parents and their community is so profound. Furthermore, the impact of parents is greatest in the earliest years of life because of the nature of brain development.

Consequently, if you care about inequality (and want to do something about it), you must recognize parenting as the linchpin. Once you have recognized parenting as the linchpin, you must recognize that the earliest years of life are most critical for lifelong health, learning, character formation and civic contribution. That is why early parenting matters to everyone.

About Graham Scharf

My name is Graham Scharf. I am a father of two delightful daughters, the husband of a developmental pediatrician, a NYC Teaching Fellow alumnus, co-founder of Tumblon.com and author of The Apprenticeship of Being Human.
Scroll To Top