Parents’ Income is a Poor Predictor of SAT Score

Open Differential Psychology, July 3, 2014, ISSN: 2446-3884


Parents’ annual income lacks statistical significance as a predictor of state SAT scores when additional variables are well controlled. Spearman rank correlation coefficients reveal parents’ income to be a weaker predictor of average SAT scores for each income bracket within each state than parents’ education level as a predictor of average SAT scores for each education level within each state. Multiple linear regression of state SAT scores with covariates for sample size, state participation, year, and each possible combination of ordinal variables for parents’ income, parents’ education, and race shows income to lack statistical significance in 49% of the iterations with greater frequency of insignificance among iterations with higher explained variance. Cohen’s d comparisons of the yearly individual SAT advantage of having educated parents show a fairly consistently increasing positive relationship over time, whereas similar analysis of the yearly individual SAT advantage of having high-income parents shows variability somewhat coinciding with the business cycle.

education, income, race, SAT, socioeconomic status

Reviewed by
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, Davide Piffer, Philbrick Bastinado

Review time 30 days.