Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor

Education Gap Grows Between Rich and PoorNote: This post was written by the previous owner of this blog in 2012.

A recent New York Times Article highlights the growing achievement gap between rich and poor families.  For a long time, race was a key factor in determine the educational success of children, but as you can see in the article, the more important factor seems to be parent’s income.

The article cites that “one reason for the growing gap in achievement, researchers say, could be that wealthy parents invest more time and money than ever before in their children (in weekend sports, ballet, music lessons, math tutors, and in overall involvement in their children’s schools), while lower-income families, which are now more likely than ever to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and resources.”

The facts are hard to ignore, but correlation does not equal causation.  In fact, the article does make a good case (one that I agree with) “that parenting matters as much as, if not more than, income in forming a child’s cognitive ability and personality, particularly in the years before children start school.”

My Own Story

As stated in my own personal story, I grew up in a low middle class household.  My parents both worked full-time jobs. I don’t remember them reading to me a whole lot as a child. I watched A LOT of television growing up, particularly in the summertime while they were working. I rarely picked up a book. I didn’t play sports. I didn’t have a tutor. In high school, I got by on Cliff’s Notes. I never went to summer camp. We didn’t go to museums. I went to public school. I took free music lessons offered at the school.

My parents emigrated from another country for the opportunities that America offered…to everyone…regardless of income. They stressed this opportunity to me and constantly told me that I can be anything I want to be, but that I would have to work hard for it.


My take on this article is that income alone is not a factor in educational success.  I did not have any advantages over and above other children in my income-class, but I did have parents who stressed hard work and discipline. They stressed education as a key to success in this country and that hard work in school would lead to educational, and subsequently, financial success.

If we conclude that income is the only factor, we are missing out on an opportunity to educate parents on their role in their children’s educational success. As the article states, “The danger is we will revert back to the mindset of the war on poverty, when poverty was just a matter of income, and giving families more would improve the prospects of their children. If people conclude that, it’s a mistake.”

A big mistake.

About The Author

Edwin is a marketer, social media influencer and head writer here at I Am 1 Percent. He manages a large network of high quality finance blogs and social media accounts. You can connect with him via email here.


  1. Michelle

    I agree, income is not the only factor in determining one’s education and financial future. I believe that everyone can give themselves their own little push in life.

  2. Poor to Rich a Day at a Time

    I believe it is really hard to determine all the factors that go into why some are so successful while others are not. Research can be useful but tends to be missing so much key information that renders it a very inaccurate way to measure. I also believe as a rule the Family Unit and Family Values have fallen by the wayside, many homeschoolers have recognized this and is a reason many choose to homeschool regardless of income, to bring back the close knit family that plays together and works together.

    If success and achievement is measured by income and education ( which public school has really become a poor model of learning in many areas) then what about people who have reached tremendous financial success with nothing more than a 3rd or 5th grade education?

    Certain people get a hunger in them and if the parents recognize this hunger and nurture it and set things in motion to motivate, there is no telling what a young individual can do.

    At the same time did the research in this article show whether the poor families parents were alcoholics or on drugs? Were these homes filled with tons and tons of arbitruary rules and so full of restrictions there was no room for individual or independance free thinkers? Did the parents support the childrens interests to the fullest potential?

    I believe there is just so much behind the scene variables that go into the chemistry of a person and what motivates them to do what they do than could ever possibly be showen in a research paper.


    1. iam1percent

      Great analysis….I agree…there are too many variable and not one cause, but several causes of educational gaps.

      1. Poor to Rich a Day at a Time

        Perhaps the gap has more to do with the academic subjects have become so seperate from life and have very little useful or relvant learning to the poorer classes. Learning and education can be two very different things and if academics are not relevant or even useful in a poor community, the gaps for sure would become astronomical if the wealthier classes are getting academics that are more relevant to their lives in private schools.

  3. Nick

    I’ll never suggest I have all the answers, but I’m a true believer that almost anyone can succeed with proper focus, hard work and education. I agree with poor to rich – way too many variables. But it seems like almost every one of the most successful people I know spend more time earning money than watching “so you think you can dance…”

  4. PB

    it seems to me (from only reading your above post) that the authors are conflating a focus on the value of education and hard work with wealth. Although having wealth may make it easier to provide opportunities for enrichment for your children the desire to do so, and the ability to instill the importance of hard work and proitizing education are by no means exclusive to those with higher incomes.

  5. MyCanadianFinances

    I agree that income is not a factor in education success BUT it is perceived to be an extreme factor. People that have a lot of money are seen as much smarter people. But in reality they could be a trust fund baby.

  6. Paul @ Make Money Make Cents

    We must be twins, yes?! JK! I had a very similar childhood. I was taught the value of hard work and respect and I feel that is what helped me. Poor to Rich hit the nail on the head with motivation. My parents always motivated me and were very supportive of all the crazy ideas I had.

    1. iam1percent

      You also watched a lot of TV and got by on Cliff’s Notes?

  7. Liquid Independence

    Maybe responsibility and work ethic also plays a role when determining success. Individuals brought up by hard working parents tend to be hard working themselves. Making lots of money and being well educated is the product of what happens when people focus and persevere. Most parents who have sustainable high incomes probably also have to deal with large responsibilities and maintain good work ethics, which they can pass on to the next generation.

  8. Six figure investor

    This is a link with income but it’s the reverse of what the normal association is. It isnt that the existence of the money causes this gap, rather first the family puts value in education then the money follows.

    Iam1, i dont have to tell you that NJ spends a lot of money on schools and kids that dont perform. The money doesnt help because the people dont value education.

    1. iam1percent

      Good point..chicken or the egg argument. I agree, its the value in education which leads to money later.

  9. Christopher @ This That and The MBA

    I think family far outweighs any money that you can throw at your childs education. My wifes family barely earned above 26k with her dad working while her mom stayed home with their children. Let me tell you they are very successful the children.

    1 Lawyer

    2 Masters and they teach

    1 Bachelors and he is an continuous improvement engineer

    2 Phd one is electrical engineer and the other is philosophy

    It is sad now though that the parents are suffering putting so much “family” and “love” into their children that they don’t have money for retirement.

  10. mylatiu

    It is sad to know about the educational gap between rich and poor. Even in our country let be the poor be poor and let the rich be rich, cos poor cant afford to have aexpensive education and rich can.

    1. iam1percent

      I didn’t have an expensive education…I went to public school.

  11. Financial Independence

    Well perhaps money is not everything in the bringing kids up…now imagine your parents and the love they could give, if you would be upper 1%…

    How many experiences you would have by the age of 18, 20…? New countries, activities, languages,..instead of dull TV….

    1. iam1percent

      I agree, but its not the only factor. The fact is that over 65% of children born in rich families don’t earn as much income as their parents did…social downward mobility.

  12. Jocelyn @ Hip Mama's Place

    I love this post because I can truly relate to this. Like you, my parents stressed hard work and discipline on us and even when we were only a one-income family, my parents made sure we were earning our bachelor’s degrees.


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