Why children inherit the social problems and poor lifestyles of their parents

Children of social security recipients go on the dole; children of high school teachers go to university. But giving more money to socially disadvantaged families is not the solution. “Once again, it has been proven that children from a weak social background do not perform as well as others. Again and again, we hear that the social inheritance is to blame when young people drop out of school,” says Professor of Sociology Mads Meier Jæger from the Department of Education at Aarhus University.

Children inherit their parents’ level of education, just as they inherit their eating habits, language and general lifestyle. Because of this, children of academics often go on to university, while children of social security recipients in many cases end up on the dole. “Studies from the US show that what’s significant when we talk about social inheritance are the soft values. The financial status of the parents is less important. What matters is how much parents talk to their children and what they talk to them about.” Moreover, the tendency for parents to pass on a poor lifestyle is even more widespread in countries without a welfare system and with great financial inequality. In the US, it is almost unthinkable that a young person from a family of unskilled workers should pursue an higher education, as the negative social inheritance is an even greater problem there, says the professor.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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