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Meeting the basic needs of children: Does income matter?

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  • Gennetian, Lisa A.
  • Castells, Nina
  • Morris, Pamela A.
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    Abstract

    We review existing research and policy evidence about income as a vehicle for meeting children's basic needs--that is, income represented as the purest monetary transfer for increasing the purchasing power of low-income families. Social scientists have made great methodological strides in establishing whether income has independent effects on the cognitive development of low-income children. Our review of that research suggests that a $1000 increase in income has positive, but small, effects on children, rarely exceeding 1/10th of a standard deviation change in outcomes for children. We argue that researchers are well-positioned for more rigorous investigations about how and why income affects children, but only first with thoughtful and creative regard for conceptual clarity, and for understanding income's potentially inter-related influences on socio-emotional development, mental, and physical health. We also argue for more focus on the effects of income transfers, including when conditional on employment, as compared to more targeted direct investments in children. We end with a description of two-generation and cafeteria-style programs as the frontiers of the next generation in income-enhancement policies, a call for more focus on policies than can address income volatility.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Children and Youth Services Review.

    Volume (Year): 32 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 9 (September)
    Pages: 1138-1148

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:32:y:2010:i:9:p:1138-1148

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/childyouth

    Related research

    Keywords: Income Poverty Policy;

    References

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    1. David Neumark & William Wascher, 2002. "Do Minimum Wages Fight Poverty?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(3), pages 315-333, July.
    2. Magnuson, Katherine A. & Ruhm, Christopher & Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 33-51, February.
    3. Rebecca M. Blank, 2001. "Declining caseloads/increased work: what can we conclude about the effects of welfare reform?," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 25-36.
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    6. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," NBER Working Papers 8344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    11. Randall K. Q. Akee & William E. Copeland & Gordon Keeler & Adrian Angold & E. Jane Costello, 2010. "Parents' Incomes and Children's Outcomes: A Quasi-experiment Using Transfer Payments from Casino Profits," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 86-115, January.
    12. Bertrand, Marianne & Shafir, Eldar & Mullainathan, Sendhil, 2006. "Behavioral Economics and Marketing in Aid of Decision Making Among the Poor," Scholarly Articles 2962609, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    13. Rachel Gordon & Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman, 2007. "The effects of maternal employment on child injuries and infectious disease," Demography, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 307-333, May.
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    15. Mills, Gregory & Gale, William G. & Patterson, Rhiannon & Engelhardt, Gary V. & Eriksen, Michael D. & Apostolov, Emil, 2008. "Effects of individual development accounts on asset purchases and saving behavior: Evidence from a controlled experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1509-1530, June.
    16. Temple, Judy A. & Reynolds, Arthur J., 2007. "Benefits and costs of investments in preschool education: Evidence from the Child-Parent Centers and related programs," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 126-144, February.
    17. Neeraj Kaushal & Qin Gao & Jane Waldfogel, 2006. "Welfare Reform and Family Expenditures: How are Single Mothers Adapting to the New Welfare and Work Regime?," NBER Working Papers 12624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Gennetian, Lisa A. & Hill, Heather D. & London, Andrew S. & Lopoo, Leonard M., 2010. "Maternal employment and the health of low-income young children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 353-363, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 2013. "Cohabitation and the Uneven Retreat from Marriage in the U.S., 1950-2010," NBER Working Papers 19413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Mangiavacchi, Lucia & Piccoli, Luca, 2011. "Improving the measurement of child welfare in the context of intra-household inequality," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 226-232, February.

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