Georgetown Study: Researchers Show Being Born Rich is Better Than Being Smart

Georgetown Study: Researchers Show Being Born Rich is Better Than Being Smart


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This might seem like a no-brainer to some, but a new study found that being born rich is better than being born smart.

A recent study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) found that being born wealthy is a stronger predictor of adult success in the U.S. than academic excellence.

The study, titled “Born to Win, Schooled to Lose,” analyzed data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and traced the outcomes of students from kindergarten through adulthood, assessing their intelligence based on standardized math tests.

What the study found was that poor kindergartners with good scores are less likely to graduate from high school, graduate from college, or earn a high wage than their affluent peers with bad grades.

A kindergarten student from the top 25 percent of socioeconomic status with test scores from the bottom 25 percent of students had a 71 percent chance of achieving the same milestones as a poor kindergartner with top scores.

Anthony P. Carnevale, the director of CEW and lead author of the report, told CNBC Make It, “To succeed in America, it’s better to be born rich than smart. People with talent often don’t succeed. What we found in this study is that people with talent that come from disadvantaged households don’t do as well as people with very little talent from advantaged households.”

The study revealed that disadvantaged children with good academic scores are less likely to graduate from high school, attend college, or earn a high wage compared to their affluent peers with poor academic performance. Even if students from low socioeconomic backgrounds manage to earn a college degree, they still face significant challenges in reaching high socioeconomic status. The study emphasized that socioeconomic advantages significantly impact a person’s life trajectory, USA Today reported.

“People tend to blame the schools, and they are at fault for not saving people who start out smart,” he says. “But there are also a variety of factors that have to do with race and class and gender and everything from books in the home to how many words you know when you’re in the 1st grade, too. Disadvantage and advantage are very complex.”

Still, higher-income families tend to invest substantially more in child enrichment activities, providing a head start for their children.

“When we follow these kids over all those years, grade by grade, what we find out is they all stumble. The difference is between who stumbles and gets back up again and who stumbles and doesn’t,” Carnevale says. He believes that if resources and support can help low-scoring advantaged students overcome challenges and reach success, similar support could also help high-scoring disadvantaged students.

The study also offered potential solutions to address educational inequality, including universal preschool programs, equitable K-12 school funding, diverse classrooms, as well as ensuring stable living wages for parents.

Photo by RDNE Stock project: https://www.pexels.com/photo/three-girls-sitting-at-the-table-and-listening-to-the-teacher-in-the-classroom-8363042/