The Great Recession and the risk for child maltreatment

Child Abuse Negl. 2013 Oct;37(10):721-9. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.08.004. Epub 2013 Sep 14.


This study draws on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=2,032), a birth cohort study of families with children from 20 U.S. cities. Interviews occurred between August 2007, and February 2010, when the children were approximately 9 years old. Macro-economic indicators of the Great Recession such as the Consumer Sentiment Index and unemployment and home foreclosure rates were matched to the data to estimate the links between different measures of the Great Recession and high frequency maternal spanking. We find that the large decline in consumer confidence during the Great Recession, as measured by the Consumer Sentiment Index, was associated with worse parenting behavior. In particular, lower levels of consumer confidence were associated with increased levels of high frequency spanking, a parenting behavior that is associated with greater likelihood of being contacted by child protective services.

Keywords: Abuse; CSI; CTSPC; Child maltreatment; Conflict Tactics Scale for Parent and Child; Consumer Sentiment Index; FFCWS; Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study; Parenting; Recession; Spanking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / trends*
  • Child Welfare
  • Cohort Studies
  • Economic Recession*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Unemployment / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology