Recession-induced poverty affects kids over their entire lives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a new report has found that children who fall into poverty during a recession fare worse far into adulthood than their peers who avoided it altogether. Specifically, children who are forced into poverty earn less, achieve lower levels of education, and are less likely to be gainfully employed over their lifetimes than those who avoided poverty. In addition, these children are more likely to be in poor health as adults.

The report, entitled Turning Point: The Long Term Effects of Recession-Induced Child Poverty, follows children who lived through post-war recessions for up to 30 years, analyzing individuals’ income, employment, education, and health into adulthood. The report resoundingly concludes that those children who experience recession created poverty fare far worse along these variables than do children who do not become poor, even though both groups of children start off in the same place.

It is estimated that approximately three million children will fall into poverty as a result of the current recession.

“Today’s results clearly indicate that children who avoid poverty during a recession go on to live more productive lives than their counterparts who are not so fortunate,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization who authored the report. “Indeed, these findings should be a clarion call for policymakers to do all they can to keep these struggling families afloat. Preventing these children from falling into poverty keeps children on the right track to steady employment, a healthy lifestyle, and a good education. Once again, we have evidence telling us that investments in our children today reap benefits that will last a lifetime.”

Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the First Focus report follows four cohorts of children who lived through post-war American recessions for up to twenty years of adulthood, comparing differences in outcomes along income, employment, education, and health variables. Three different categories of children were analyzed: (1) those who fell into poverty during a recession, (2) those who stayed out of poverty during a recession, and (3) those who were already experiencing poverty even before the recession began.

Click here to download a copy of the report.