Children who grow up in homes with extensive libraries attain three years more schooling than children in bookless homes, according to a 20-year study published in the June 2010 issue of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility.
The study, which examined over 70,000 cases from representative national samples in 27 nations, challenges the popular notion that the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education is having parents who are highly educated. Parents’ education, occupational status and class are all believed to affect a child’s educational attainment. The study finds, however, that being raised in a home with a 500-book library drives a child 3.2 years further in education, on average. Having university-educated parents also propels a child 3.2 years further in education.
According to the study, even 20 books in the home has a strong effect on educational attainment. The more books added to the home, the greater the benefit. In China, having 500 books or more books in the home propels children 6.6 years further in their education. In the United States, children are propelled 2.4 years further, a figure slightly less than the 3.2-year average.
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