Children who grow up in income poverty experience increased risks for lifelong hardship. These hardships include low birth weight, increased infant mortality, emotional and behavioral problems, delayed cognitive development, lower academic achievement, and high school dropout, to name a few. The effects of income poverty are intergenerational, such that children in poverty are substantially more likely to be poor as adults. A recent review summarizing the past 50 years of research on this subject, highlights toxic stress and compromised immunity as the most conclusive mechanisms by which low income shapes later outcomes. The consequences of income poverty justify why more research is needed on the nature and extent of childhood poverty and interventions to reduce it. Within the existing literature, the vast majority of child poverty research uses household income as the sole indicator of well-being. Yet, families rely on a range of economic resources beyond income to meet basic needs and support children's development. Reeves and colleagues have recognized that poverty and disadvantage are complex and should be measured with multiple dimensions. Specifically, assets—financial and non-financial—shape family functioning and children's development in ways that are unique and independent from income. We begin by defining assets to include financial capital such as savings and stocks, along with non-financial assets such as real estate holdings, vehicles, etc. We then focus on financial assets as especially important to household finances because they can be easily liquidated to smooth consumption during times of economic hardship. (Author abstract)
Asset poverty among children: A cross-national study of poverty risk
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