Young Children’s Prosocial Behavior Protects Against Academic Risk in Neighborhoods With Low Socioeconomic Status

Publication authors

Emma Armstrong-Carter, Jonas G. Miller, Liam J. B. Hill, Benjamin W. Domingue


Children raised in neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status (SES) are at risk for low academic achievement. Identifying factors that help children from disadvantaged neighborhoods thrive is critical for reducing inequalities. We investigated whether children’s prosocial behavior buffers concurrent and subsequent academic risk in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Bradford, UK. Diverse children (N = 1,175) were followed until age seven, with measurements taken at four times. We used governmental indices of neighborhood-level SES, teacher observations of prosocial behaviors, and direct assessments of academic achievement. Neighborhood SES was positively associated with academic achievement among children with low levels of prosocial behavior, but not among children with high levels of prosocial behavior. Prosocial behavior may mitigate academic risk across early childhood.