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Guest lecture

Rising Inequality, Schools and Children's Life Chances

Event series: 

The Treasury and the School of Government at Victoria University are pleased to sponsor the following Treasury Guest Lecture by Prof Greg Duncan.


During the most recent three decades, the gap between the incomes of the America's rich and poor families has grown enormously. Little noticed, but vital for the nation's future prosperity, is the equally dramatic widening of the gap between the educational attainments of children growing up in rich and poor families. How growing economic inequality contributes to a widening gulf between the educational outcomes of rich and poor children is the subject of Duncan's talk and the recent book "Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools and Children's Life Chances," published by the Russell Sage Foundation and the Spencer Foundation and co-edited with Richard Murnane.  Part of the story concerns changes in family expenditure and parenting patterns. Another part concerns the consequences for schooling of increasing residential segregation by income. Promising policy responses to this problem include early direct investments in children, particularly through high-quality preschool programs that teach the basic cognitive skills and socio-emotional skills that children need to thrive in schools, and income supports such as the earned income tax credit that raise the income of low-wage workers and have been shown to strengthen poor families and boost children's school successes.


Prof Greg Duncan(Ph.D., Economics, University of Michigan, 1974) is Distinguished Professor, School of Education at the University of California, Irvine.  Duncan's recent work has focused on estimating the role of school-entry skills and behaviours on later school achievement and attainment and the effects of increasing income inequality on schools and children's life chances. Duncan was President of the Population Association of America in 2008, and President of the Society for Research in Child Development between 2009 and 2011. He was elected to the National Academy of Education in 2009 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2010.

Note: Papers, presentation slides and any other material provided by the Guest Lecturer will be made available some time after the lecture at Publications > Media & Speeches > Guest Lectures by Visiting Academics.

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Last updated: 
Wednesday, 28 May 2014