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Presented By: The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Professor Vonnie McLoyd, The Ewart A.C. Thomas Collegiate Professorship in Psychology, Inaugural Lecture

The Ecology of Childhood Poverty

Poster Poster
Poverty exposes children to multiple environmental inequities that increase the risk of impaired physical health, lower educational attainment, mental health problems, delinquency, and worse outcomes as adults. Adverse outcomes are stronger when poverty occurs in early childhood or persists throughout a large portion of childhood. Experiments that test the effects of policies and programs that increase cash income and “near cash” benefits (e.g.,nutrition assistance) suggest that income poverty itself causes negative child outcomes, and that differences between the outcomes of poor and nonpoor children do not stem exclusively from the cluster of other disadvantages associated with poverty that may be harmful to children (e.g., low levels of parental education). There are numerous pathways through which poverty can influence children's development. In this lecture, I will emphasize research that adopts a “family stress” perspective, which posits that poverty can adversely affect children’s socioemotional development partly by increasing psychological distress and depressive symptoms in parents and in turn, undermining the quality of parenting. Neighborhood characteristics and interpersonal factors can contribute to, amplify, and mitigate links in this pathway. Extensive research suggests that alleviation of poverty can foster children’s development by increasing the goods and services that parents can buy for their children and by promoting a more responsive, less stressful environment in which more positive parent-child interactions can occur.

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Poster Poster

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