This article assesses the consequences of poverty between a child's prenatal year and 5th birthday for several adult achievement, health, and behavior outcomes, measured as late as age 37. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (1,589) and controlling for economic conditions in middle childhood and adolescence, as well as demographic conditions at the time of the birth, findings indicate statistically significant and, in some cases, quantitatively large detrimental effects of early poverty on a number of attainment-related outcomes (adult earnings and work hours).
Infant and Toddlers
Why parental socioeconomic status correlates strongly with various measures of child and adult achievement is an important and controversial research question. After summarizing findings from recent contributions to this literature, we conduct two sets of analyses using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Completed schooling and nonmarital childbearing are related to parental income during early and middle childhood, as well as during adolescence.
Toddlers are rapidly developing movement and language abilities that help them interact with their surroundings. They may go through changes from infant to toddler care settings, or from younger to older toddler childcare rooms, which bring new people, new schedules, and new expectations. Positive relationships with caregivers are essential for cultivating emerging self-regulation skills. This document provides tips to help caregivers use co-regulation to promote self-regulation skill development in toddlers. (Edited author introduction)
The first year of life is a critical time for infants to begin developing secure attachments with their parents and caregivers (secure attachment is when children know they can depend on adults to respond sensitively to their needs). This helps babies learn that their world is a safe place and it is an important foundation for self-regulation development. When babies transition to childcare outside of the home, they need to form relationships with other caregivers and learn through experience that their needs will be met. (Edited author introduction)
The home environment, including a child’s relationship with parents and primary caregivers, is the biggest influence on a child’s ability to develop self-regulation skills. Home visiting professionals have a unique opportunity to help both the child and parent or caregiver develop self-regulation skills and to help strengthen their relationship. This document provides tips to help home visitors empower caregivers with skills and tools to provide co-regulation support for their child. (Edited author introduction)
We argue in Part 1 of this paper that maternal depression is an under-acknowledged factor in the intergenerational transmission of poverty, and lack of economic mobility. Specifically, we show that:
I. Poverty increases the risk of maternal depression;
II. Maternal depression can weaken attachment;
III. Weaker attachment can impair child development;
IV. Slower development can damage child outcomes; and
V. Worse child outcomes can increase the risk of future poverty.
After reaching 23 percent in 1993—the highest rate since 1964—child poverty (the percentage of children in families with income below 100 percent of the federal poverty level) fell to 16 percent in 2000. The rate then rose slowly through 2004, to 18 percent. Soon after, the child poverty rate began to reflect the most recent economic downturn. From 2006 to 2010, child poverty increased from 17 to 22 percent of all children under age 18, before declining from 2010 to 2017, to 17 percent.
Young children in poor communities are spending more hours in nonparental care because of policy reforms and expansion of early childhood programs. Studies show positive effects of high-quality center-based care on children's cognitive growth. Yet, little is known about the effects of center care typically available in poor communities or the effects of home-based care. Using a sample of children who were between 12 and 42 months when their mothers entered welfare-to-work programs, this paper finds positive cognitive effects for children in center care.
Relations between nonrelative child care (birth to 4 1/2 years) and functioning at age 15 were examined (N = 1,364). Both quality and quantity of child care were linked to adolescent functioning. Effects were similar in size as those observed at younger ages. Higher quality care predicted higher cognitive-academic achievement at age 15, with escalating positive effects at higher levels of quality. The association between quality and achievement was mediated, in part, by earlier child-care effects on achievement.
As women approach parity with men in their representation in the U.S. labor force, child care has become a critical concern both for families and for community development professionals. In this paper, we review recent literature on parental child care decisions and on socio-economic differences in child care utilization. We contrast two bodies of theoretical and empirical research on the determinants of child care arrangements, comparing models of individual consumption choice with models of socially constructed or situated patterns of action.