In 2013, Clinical Psychological Science Journal, authors Gary Evans and Rochelle Cassells outline the extensive and devastating impact of childhood poverty. They find that children who experience poverty before the age of 9 are at higher risk of developing behavioral disorders, greater morbidity for chronic disease, and even premature death.
“No one, no matter where he or she stands in the political spectrum, should ignore the tragedy of young children who will never realize their potential because they never had a chance.” Children who grow up in poverty are more prone to developing “learned helplessness” behaviors, factors that could underpin the educational achievement gaps between high-income and low-income groups. Evans and Cassells find that the more time a child spends in poverty from birth to age 9, the greater the negative impact on physical and mental health in adolescence and early adulthood. Children who grow up in poverty are at heightened risk for “externalizing” disorders such as behavior issues, conduct disorders, and ADHD. Poverty has no discernible impact on “internalizing” disorders like anxiety and depression. These trends held regardless of adult income levels, indicating that eh effects of early childhood poverty are long-lasting and not simply corrected by better financial security later in life. As approximately 1 in 4 American children currently live in poverty, the collective impact of this phenomenon will be inescapable for decades to come. The Chicago Tribune made an article called, “30 Years Later, So Much Endures”, which expands on the issue.