Adverse experiences and educational inequality

Friday 21 October 2022, 10:30
PhD defence
Adversity and educational inequality: The interplay between adverse experiences and parental resources for children’s educational attainment.
Speaker or Ph. D. student
mevrouw C. Bussemakers MSc.
prof. dr. G. Kraaykamp, prof. dr. J. Tolsma
Faculty of Social Sciences

Half of Dutch adults report that they experienced adversity during their youth, and rates in other countries seem even higher. Common adverse experiences include forms of household dysfunction (e.g.: parental divorce), maltreatment or parental death. Children who experience adversity often attain lower levels of education than their peers, but the exact role of adverse experiences for educational inequality remains unclear. This dissertation provides insights in the interplay between adverse experiences and parental resources for children’s educational attainment. It shows that adverse experiences are somewhat more common among families with a lower socioeconomic status, but children of higher educated parents are also likely to experience adversity during their youth. Moreover, children from all social strata experience more behavioural problems and attain lower levels of education when they experience adversity. Although parental resources generally benefit children’s educational outcomes, they do not reduce the impact of adversity. In fact, educational consequences of adversity are larger for children of higher educated parents because these children have

relatively more to lose. This highlights the need for adequate support for children and families that experience adversity in order to provide more equal educational opportunities for children with different family backgrounds.

Carlijn Bussemakers (Breda, 1993) studied Sociology at Tilburg University and Social and Cultural Science at Radboud University. She obtained an NWO Talent Grant for her PhD-research at Radboud University. For her research, she worked together with prof. Ingrid Schoon at the Institute of Education at University College London. As of April 2022, she works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Radboud University Medical Center and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

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