Early-childhood poverty and adult attainment, behavior, and health

Child Dev. 2010 Jan-Feb;81(1):306-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01396.x.


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). Early-childhood poverty was not associated with such behavioral measures as out-of-wedlock childbearing and arrests. Most of the adult earnings effects appear to operate through early poverty's association with adult work hours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Behavior*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Income* / statistics & numerical data
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Poverty*
  • Social Class
  • United States
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data*