Low-Income Mothers' Material Hardship and Children's Socioemotional WellBeing

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Research suggests that children from low-income families are more likely to exhibit behavioral problems than children from wealthier families and these adverse behaviors have long-term detrimental effects on academic outcomes, health and earnings. In this paper, we examine the relationship between material hardship, an economic indicator that describes concrete adversities, and child behavior. Specifically, we use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine the following questions; (a) Is material hardship associated with child socioemotional behavior, (b) Are particular hardships associated with socioemotional outcomes, and (c) Are there stronger effects for more recent or long lasting hardships? We find that children in households experiencing material hardship score significantly higher on aggressive, withdrawn, and anxious/depressed behaviors. Additionally, we find that a mother‐˜s inability to pay bills, having utilities cut off, and having unmet medical needs have particular adverse affects on child behavior.
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