What is it about?

Exposing to deep poverty for extended periods of time and experiencing substantial income volatility increases parental depression, reducing parental ability to invest in cognitively stimulating materials, and disrupting parental engagement in children's school activities; all of such consequentially harm children's locus of control, self-concept, and internalizing behavior.

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Why is it important?

Experiencing economic deprivation during childhood carry long-lasting adverse consequences throughout the lifetime, such as having lower wages and income and thus incurring vicious cycles of poverty. Understanding the challenges due to economic deprivation faced by parents with young children thus helps inform family practitioners and psychologists about the critical interconnections between deprivation, inequity, and child well-being. In turn, targeted support programs aiming to address economic deprivation can go beyond simply lifting families from poverty and focus on promoting income stability during childhood.


Poverty is not a static experience; rather, multidimensional and dynamic. Therefore, sustainable strategies promoting the stability of economic resources are critical to ensure all children thrive in an increasingly unequal world.

Liwei Zhang
Washington University in Saint Louis

Practitioners in family psychology are at the forefront of addressing distress experienced by individuals and families. Such a role underscores the importance for family psychologists to recognize, rethink, and reevaluate physical and mental health values and assumptions in the United States. This study presents one such challenge: that a child's mental health could be the consequence of the family’s experience with long-term economic deprivation through no fault of the individual family or the child.

Wen-Jui Han
New York University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Childhood deprivation experience, family pathways, and socioemotional functioning., Journal of Family Psychology, March 2021, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/fam0000811.
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