Life course epidemiological studies have documented the effects of family socioeconomic position (SEP) at birth on youth developmental processes and outcomes decades later. According to the minorities’ diminished returns (MDR) theory, however, family SEP at birth generates smaller returns for Black compared to White families. Using 15 years of follow up data of a national sample of American families, this study investigated racial differences in the effect of family income at birth on subsequent school bonding of the adolescent at age 15. The fragile families and child well-being study (FFCWS) is a 15-year prospective longitudinal study of 495 White and 1436 Black families from the birth of their child. Family SEP (income to needs ratio) at birth was the independent variable. Youth school bonding at age 15 was the main outcome. Linear regressions were applied for data analysis, with race as the focal moderator. In the pooled sample, in addition to each race, higher family SEP at birth was associated with higher school bonding of the youth at age 15. Race altered the effects of family SEP at birth on youth school bonding at age 15, indicating smaller protective effects for Black compared to White youth. Race stratified regressions also showed the effect of family SEP at birth on age 15 school bonding for White youth, but not Black youth. Tangible outcomes that follow economic resources at birth are disproportionately smaller for Black families compared to those for White families. Merely equalizing SEP is not enough for the elimination of racial inequalities in youth outcomes. Policies should reduce societal and structural barriers that commonly cause diminished returns of SEP for Black families. Policy evaluations should aim for most effective policies that have the potential to equalize Blacks’ and Whites’ chances for gaining tangible developmental and health outcomes from identical SEP resources.
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