Income and Beyond: Taking the Measure of Child Deprivation in the United States

Ciula, Raffaele; Skinner, Curtis

Comparatively little work has been done in the United States to develop multidimensional measures of child deprivation using individual level data. Our research, using Panel Study of Income Dynamics/Child Development Supplement data for a sample of older children and adolescents, introduces an experimental measure to demonstrate the new insights in child well-being that can be gained by looking beyond family income. Besides low income, our measure includes 16 indicators of deprivation encompassing child, parental, familial, and environmental conditions associated with poor outcomes in childhood and adulthood. We describe the surprisingly high incidence of deprivation among the sample children and examine differences by demographic characteristics. We calculate correlations among low income and other indicators of deprivation to understand how children are likely to be exposed to multiple deprivations. Using multivariate modeling, we examine the joint association of income and non-income contextual indicators with three child outcome deprivations: poor health, low social/emotional well-being, and poor basic learning skills. We find that the multidimensional measure provides valuable information about children at risk for poor development outcomes not captured by more standard income poverty and material hardship measures. The paper concludes with suggestions for public policy initiatives that may help reduce child exposure to these risk factors and ameliorate their effects.

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Also Published In

Child Indicators Research

More About This Work

Academic Units
National Center for Children in Poverty
Published Here
December 3, 2014