In 1995, a seminal book was published suggesting that children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were exposed to 30 million fewer words than richer children by the age of 4 — the so-called “word gap”. The idea is now widespread and has informed early childhood policy in the United States (though the findings are more contentious than this ubiquity might suggest).
But why might these kids be exposed to fewer words? A new study finds that worries about financial insecurity reduced the amount that caregivers spoke to their small children, suggesting that these concerns themselves could be at least partly responsible for the word gap. Continue reading →