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Socioeconomic Context and Emotional-Behavioral Achievement Links: Concurrent and Prospective Associations Among Low- and High-Income Youth


  • This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (RO1-DA10726, RO1-DA11498, and R01-DA14385) and the William T. Grant Foundation. Many thanks are due to the students who participated in this study as well as the school personnel who assisted in making this happen. Great gratitude is due to Dr. Anne Law whose feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript was invaluable in shaping the final product. Nadia S. Ansary is now at Department of Psychology, Rider University.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Nadia S. Ansary, Department of Psychology, Rider University, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648-3099. E-mail:


Temporal associations in the relationship between emotional-behavioral difficulty and academic achievement were explored in 2 samples followed from 6th through 8th grade. The first sample comprised 280 students entering an economically disadvantaged urban middle school and the second comprised 318 students entering an affluent suburban middle school. Among disadvantaged youth, emotional indices were concurrently associated with poorer achievement while prospective associations between substance use and achievement were evident. For privileged adolescents, only a significant concurrent relationship emerged between social anxiety and achievement, although nonsignificant trends in the data suggest other, albeit weak, associations. The findings are discussed in terms of similarities and differences in these temporal associations across 2 samples representing extremes of the socioeconomic continuum.