Can Breastfeeding Solve Inequality? The Relative Moderating Impact of Breastfeeding on Poverty Gaps in Canadian Child Cognitive Skills


  • Phyllis L. F. Rippeyoung Acadia University



poverty, test score gaps, breastfeeding, NLSCY


Research has clearly shown that poverty has a negative impact on children’s cognitive skills. Much evidence points to the importance of family environment as an important moderator of this gap. One factor within the family environment, however, that has received comparatively little attention within Sociology is breastfeeding, despite the fact that a large body of literature has shown that breastfeeding is positively correlated with child cognitive skills and negatively correlated with poverty. Nonetheless, based on these correlations, many breastfeeding promotional materials and some public health research studies assume and argue that breastfeeding can remedy cognitive skills inequalities; although, these assumptions have never been empirically addressed. Thus, in this paper, I assess whether breastfeeding can address poverty gaps in cognitive skills in Canada using cycles 6 through 8 of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth.

Author Biography

Phyllis L. F. Rippeyoung, Acadia University

Phyllis L. F. Rippeyoung, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Sociology at Acadia University. Her research is in the area of social stratification with a particular focus on the ways in which breastfeeding and its promotion are related to social inequality.