Income is not enough: incorporating material hardship into models of income associations with parenting and child development

Child Dev. 2007 Jan-Feb;78(1):70-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.00986.x.


Although research has clearly established that low family income has negative impacts on children's cognitive skills and social-emotional competence, less often is a family's experience of material hardship considered. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 (N=21,255), this study examined dual components of family income and material hardship along with parent mediators of stress, positive parenting, and investment as predictors of 6-year-old children's cognitive skills and social-emotional competence. Support was found for a model that identified unique parent-mediated paths from income to cognitive skills and from income and material hardship to social-emotional competence. The findings have implications for future study of family income and child development and for identification of promising targets for policy intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emotions
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Intelligence
  • Internal-External Control
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Psychosocial Deprivation*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Behavior
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology