Neighborhood Poverty, Family Economic Well-Being, and Child Maltreatment

Publication Year


Journal Article

This study sought to understand the relationships between neighborhood poverty, family monetary well-being, and child maltreatment. The specific research questions were as follows: (1) Is neighborhood poverty at age 1 related to child physical abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect at age 5? (2) Are these relationships mediated by family monetary well-being? The study relied on data from three waves (child ages 1, 3, and 5) of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth-cohort study of 4,898 children from 20 large U.S. cities. Structural equation modeling was employed to examine mediational effects. The study found a lasting impact of neighborhood poverty on child neglect only, and this relationship was fully mediated by family monetary well-being. There was not a significant longitudinal relationship between neighborhood poverty and physical abuse or psychological abuse. Implications from the study suggest that neighborhood disadvantage impacts a families’ economic well-being, and that individual-level economic supports may interrupt the pathway from neighborhood poverty to child neglect.

Journal of Interpersonal Violence