What really matters? Family structure or Pre-K education?

26 Jul

For all the policy-attention pre-k gets in national discussions about fighting poverty, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that (as usual) the more important factor (cause and solution) is the restoration of the family.  Consider these recent year data from Kids Count.  I calculated correlation coefficients between % of children in poverty and % of children in single-parent homes by state.  I did the same for % of children in poverty and % receiving pre-k education.  Which one appears to be the stronger relationship?  Family structure, and it wasn’t close (.76 to .25 or strong relationship vs weak relationship).  Further, the first correlation was statistically significant at a robust level (we are very confident the relationship exists) while the second was not statistically significant.  The usual caveats apply of course (correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, not a multi-variate analysis, and this is aggregate not individual-level data).  Here is the scatter plot for a visual:

poverty graphs

%d bloggers like this: