Growing Up With Books In The Home = More Years of Education Completed In Life

I’ll admit, I’ve been accused of going a bit overboard on my book collection. At present, we’ve got 4 full-sized bookcases in the living room, and three small cases in the kids’ rooms, with more books in boxes downstairs. Believe it or not, that’s after a substantial effort at weeding them out (and NOT buying more!) over the last few years.

After reading this, I might just go buy another bookcase. I’m sure I can find a kitchen appliance I don’t use any more <g>.

“Home library size has a very substantial effect on educational attainment, even adjusting for parents’ education, father’s occupational status and other family background characteristics,” reports the study, recently published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility. “Growing up in a home with 500 books would propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average, than would growing up in a similar home with few or no books.

“This is a large effect, both absolutely and in comparison with other influences on education,” adds the research team, led by University of Nevada sociologist M.D.R. Evans. “A child from a family rich in books is 19 percentage points more likely to complete university than a comparable child growing up without a home library.”

This effect holds true regardless of a nation’s wealth, culture or political system, but its intensity varies from country to country. In China, a child whose parents own 500 books will average 6.6 more years of education than a comparable child from a bookless home. In the U.S., the figure is 2.4 years — which is still highly significant when you consider it’s the difference between two years of college and a full four-year degree.

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