Social Structure, Adversity, Toxic Stress, and Intergenerational Poverty: An Early Childhood Model

Posted: 14 Aug 2017

Date Written: July 2017

Abstract

Why are children of poor parents more likely to be poor as adults than other children? Early-childhood adversities resulting from social structures and relationships impact children's bodily systems and brain development through recurrent stress. These socially patterned biological processes influence social reproduction. Social support and interventions can prevent or compensate for the early biological effects of toxic social environments. This article integrates sociological, neuroscience, epigenetic, and psychological evidence to build a model of early-childhood developmental mechanisms contributing to intergenerational poverty. This model captures ways in which social structures interact with biological characteristics and systems to shape life trajectories.

Suggested Citation

McEwen, Craig and McEwen, Bruce S., Social Structure, Adversity, Toxic Stress, and Intergenerational Poverty: An Early Childhood Model (July 2017). Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 43, pp. 445-472, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3018063 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-060116-053252

Craig McEwen (Contact Author)

Bowdoin College ( email )

Brunswick, ME 04011
United States

Bruce S. McEwen

Rockefeller University ( email )

United States

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