Socioeconomic disparities in early language development in two Norwegian samples

Luísa A. Ribeiro*, Henrik Daae Zachrisson, Ane Naerde, Mari Vaage Wang, Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen, Giampiero Passaretta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Socioeconomic disparities in early language are widespread and have long-lasting effects. The aim of this study is to investigate when social gaps in language problems arise and how they change across the first years of schooling. We address this question in two large longitudinal Norwegian datasets: the Behavior Outlook Norwegian Developmental Study (BONDS) and the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). Despite some slight differences across the two samples, we found that children from higher social backgrounds are less likely to have language difficulties starting from age 18 months and up to age 8 (grade 2). Moreover, while early language problems are strongly predictive of later language, maternal education makes an additional contribution to explaining language difficulties at the beginning of school life. Social inequality in language development arises early, even in a country like Norway, with low unemployment and one of the most egalitarian societies in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-188
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Developmental Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Early language
  • Social inequality
  • MoBa


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