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This paper examines socio-economic, demographic, non-cognitive and cognitive influences on early childhood cognitive ability and subsequent student achievement at school analyzing Australian longitudinal data. The clearly dominant influences on achievement are early childhood cognitive ability and prior achievement. Socio-economic status (which includes accurate measures of family income) has only moderate relationships with early childhood cognitive ability and student achievement. Its effects on student achievement are small when taking into account early childhood cognitive ability and especially prior achievement. This is also the case for family size, family type and to some extent, Indigenous status, but not for gender and language background. Of the non-cognitive attributes examined only ‘persistence’ has a moderate impact on student achievement. Fixed effects analyses show very small and statistically insignificant effects for family income and father's occupational status, but consistent, albeit small, effects for persistence. This study demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, student achievement is not strongly linked to family income or socio-economic status.

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