Give Us This Day Our Daily Breadth


  • For insightful comments on earlier drafts, I am deeply indebted to Emma Adam, Dorothy Duncan, George Farkas, Michael Foster, Aletha Huston, Jeffrey Lockman, Deborah Stipek, and, above all, Deborah Vandell, whose persistent reminders that “it’s honey that attracts the bees” led to many improvements.

concerning this article should be addressed to Greg J. Duncan, Department of Education, University of California, Irvine, 2001 Education, Irvine, CA 92697-5500. Electronic mail may be sent to


As with any discipline, the field of child development progresses by both deepening and broadening its conceptual and empirical perspective. The rewards to refinement are impressive, but there is little need for encouragement in this area, since existing disciplines, universities, and funding agencies reward depth. The current study makes the case for breadth: for combining insights from different disciplines and methods in synergistic ways. Examples include influences of family poverty on children, inequality and child development, and methods for assessing impacts of policies. Drawing together disparate ideas from different research traditions can be not only time consuming and frustrating but also deeply rewarding, both scientifically and personally. The study closes with thoughts about how departments, universities, funding agencies, and Society for Research in Child Development itself might promote interdisciplinary inquiry.