The Effects of Social Class on Children

Updated November 21, 2016

The Congressional Budget Office conducted a study on social class in which it found that the combined wealth of the richest 1 per cent of Americans totalled £10.9 trillion dollars in 2007; the combined wealth of the lower 90 per cent of the population totalled £1.3 trillion dollars less. The disparity between the rich and poor has been steadily growing for the past 30 years, creating social stratification. This has led many to question the role of social class in the development of children.


In a recent interview with The Independent, Graham Holley, an executive in the Training and Development Agency for Schools, indicated that education remains the most important factor in determining a child's success. As a general trend, children from poorer areas receive a poorer quality of education as a result of the fact that many states use income tax to fund schools. The income taxes from poorer areas cannot equip poor schools with enough materials, while the income tax from richer neighbourhoods generates revenue for great systems. As a result, children receive an education that reflects the quality of their home neighbourhoods, which in some cases can inhibit their success.

Get In Where You Fit In

When children are brought up in a certain class, they develop the sense of proper behaviour and appropriate action through observing parents and other adults within that class. As a result, children are likely to adopt the culture and attitudes of their social class. These cultural differences can include religion, political views, etiquette, perspective on education and the concept of right and wrong.

Middle Class

In a resent study at the University of California at Berkeley, Annette Lareau performed a study on how class affects children's daily lives. She found that middle class parents tend to provide their children with "concerted cultivation," which means age-specific activities that enrich children's lives. Parents undergo massive financial and temporal burdens to assure that children participate in these activities, which seems to yield a positive result in their children's lives. Thus, the trend seems to be that middle class children receive this type of individualised and activity-driven lifestyle.

Choice of Occupation

Social class affects children's choice of occupation by providing them with a concept of the types of jobs that are appropriate and possible. For example, if a child has two parents who work as janitors for minimum wage, then the child is likely to have a similar job as a result of having parents who set this example. On the other hand, if a child has parents who are successful lawyers, then he also may be inclined to become a lawyer.

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