Low Income and the Development of America's Kindergartners

Gershoff, Elizabeth T.

The more income a family has, the better their children do academically, socially, and physically. This research shows a dramatic linear pattern between family income and children's positive development is especially clear when the effects of family income are examined for all children. Living in low-income families—families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level—the amount that research suggests is needed for most families to be economically self-sufficient—exacts a measurable toll on children's overall healthy development. The intellectual, social-emotional, and physical development of children in low-income families have been shown to lag behind that of their more affluent peers. However, previous studies focused mainly on low-income, and often minority, children. This report confirms the detrimental effects of low family income on children by examining the well-being of children from across all incomes and race-ethnicity groups in a nationally representative sample of children attending kindergarten—The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (Kindergarten Cohort)—in 1998.

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National Center for Children in Poverty
National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University
Published Here
July 8, 2010