The Recession’s Effect on Children

A new report published by the bipartisan advocacy organization First Focus illustrates how recessions affect child well-being and concludes that even temporary poverty has lifelong health implications for children. Conducted by researchers at PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the report, “The Effect of Recession on Child Well-Being,” says it takes years for families, especially low-income families, to bounce back to pre-recession income levels.

The study synthesized evidence in four areas–health, food security, housing stability, and child maltreatment–and reviewed the correlation of each to child well-being during recessions, past and present. The study found that as a result of increased poverty, approximately 43% of families with children report that they are struggling to afford stable housing. The study also found an increase in the number of “food insecure” households.

“While there has been much discussion about housing issues for families during this recession, I’m not sure many people know how profound the food insecurity issues have been, where as many as 74% of children in some of our communities are now relying on food stamps to put dinner on the table,” said David Rubin, MD, MSCE, director of PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The evidence is also strong that those families who entered the recession in poverty will take much longer to rebound, demonstrating that we have a long road ahead even as the economy improves.”

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