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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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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V98-4YK7HWF-1/2/fc4be1f0c05d2a0fabe8200360913f2e
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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. Dahl, Gordon B. & Lochner, Lance, 2012. "The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit," IZA Discussion Papers 6613, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    15. 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.
    16. Erik Plug & Wim Vijverberg, 2005. "Does Family Income Matter for Schooling Outcomes? Using Adoptees as a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 879-906, October.
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    Cited by:
    1. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert, 2013. "Cohabitation and the Uneven Retreat from Marriage in the U.S., 1950-2010," IZA Discussion Papers 7607, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    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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