Can a Poverty Reduction Intervention Reduce Family Stress Among Families with Infants? An Experimental Analysis.

33 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2022

See all articles by Katherine Magnuson

Katherine Magnuson

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Paul Yoo

UC Irvine

Greg Duncan

University of California, Irvine

Hirokazu Yoshikawa

New York University (NYU)

Kathy Trang

Postdoctural Fellow

Lisa A. Gennetian

Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab

Sarah Halpern-Meekin

UW Madison

Nathan Fox

University of Maryland

Kiimberly Noble

Columbia University, Teachers' College

Date Written: May 6, 2022

Abstract

Objective: The goal of this study is to examine the causal impacts of a poverty reduction intervention on components of the Family Stress Model.
Background: The Family Stress Model is a theoretical framework explaining the relationship between poverty and child development. Although robust correlational evidence supports this model, few poverty reduction interventions used an experimental approach to understand whether decreases in poverty affect the key elements of the Family Stress Model.
Method: The Baby’s First Years study recruited 1,000 low-income mothers of newborns. Shortly after giving birth, mothers were randomized to receive an unconditional monthly cash gift of either $333 or $20 per month. Follow-up data were collected from 931 mothers approximately 12 months after the birth of their child.
Results: Although the intervention produced a moderate increase in household income and reduced poverty, we observe no detectable improvements in mothers’ subjective reports of economic hardship, psychological distress, the quality of their relationship with a partner, or the quality of play with their infants. However, mothers who received the higher cash gift amounts reported more frequently engaging in enriching child activities during the first year of life than did mothers who received lower cash gift amounts.
Conclusion: We find little support for the hypothesis that the key elements of the family stress model are affected by a moderate poverty reduction among families raising young children.
Implications: Future research needs to further expand, refine, and evaluate how family processes are affected by moderate poverty-reduction interventions for different populations.

Keywords: poverty, child development, stress, economic hardship

JEL Classification: I31, J13

Suggested Citation

Magnuson, Katherine and Yoo, Paul and Duncan, Greg and Yoshikawa, Hirokazu and Trang, Kathy and Gennetian, Lisa A. and Halpern-Meekin, Sarah and Fox, Nathan and Noble, Kimberly, Can a Poverty Reduction Intervention Reduce Family Stress Among Families with Infants? An Experimental Analysis. (May 6, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4188131 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4188131

Katherine Magnuson (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Paul Yoo

UC Irvine ( email )

School of Education
3200 Education Bldg
Irvine, CA California 92697
United States

Greg Duncan

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Hirokazu Yoshikawa

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Kathy Trang

Postdoctural Fellow ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Lisa A. Gennetian

Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy ( email )

212 Rubenstein Hall
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States
9196139341 (Phone)
27708 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sanford.duke.edu/profile/lisa-gennetian/

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab ( email )

400 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.povertyactionlab.org/person/gennetian

Sarah Halpern-Meekin

UW Madison ( email )

Nathan Fox

University of Maryland

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

Kimberly Noble

Columbia University, Teachers' College ( email )

525 W. 120th St.
New York, NY 10027
United States

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