Office of Research Children in Economic Distress - Office of Research

Children in Economic Distress

Children in Economic Distress

The Challenge

Provide a more holistic understanding of the impact of economic hardship on children’s long term health and well-being.

Children in Economic Distress

Why It Is Important

It has long been known that relative to non-poor children, children who grow up in poverty are at a substantially higher risk of experiencing poverty, chronic health problems, and psychological distress in adulthood. Understanding the full range of mechanisms that underlie the inter-generational transmission of poverty and its consequences is key to the development of policies that successfully help children achieve their long-term potential, and to reducing the cycle of poverty.

Our Approach

Our goal is to bring together expert faculty and graduate students from the departments of Psychology, Economics, and Human Ecology, to produce a comprehensive research program that focuses on understanding the full range of impacts experienced by children whose families experience economic hardship and chronic disadvantage. Moreover, we aim to understand how these effects ultimately translate into adult well-being.  Regular discussions, informal seminars, and graduate training sessions aid in disciplinary translation and in building a richer interdisciplinary understanding of the myriad of ways that economic hardship affects children’s life chances.


  • Produce research that contributes to the development of effective social policy
  • Create a network of researchers on campus who are able to more fully incorporate relevant knowledge/approaches coming out of other disciplines into their own discipline centered research
  • Create a new generation of scholars who are immersed in the full range of approaches, and the intellectual richness that is associated with an interdisciplinary community

Impacts and Highlights

Produced papers and published articles on topics that include:

  • The differential impact of mothers’ and fathers’ labor market opportunities on child health (including mental health)
  • The impact of the safety net across multiple generations’ health
  • Stress responses and social buffering
  • The adolescent brain in a sociocultural context

Research has been presented at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Southern California, as well as at a number of other prestigious institutions including the Brookings Institution, the Society of Labor Economists, and the Biennial Meeting for the Society of Research in Adolescence.

Team members have taken to legislative and other policy related outreach. Marianne Page met with Congressional Representative, John Garamendi’s staff to discuss research on the importance of child health and nutrition programs. Page also presented an overview of child poverty on research and policy for the Center for Poverty Research “Policy Research and Policy Summit” in April 2016. Marianne Bitler presented “Lessons on the Safety Net” for the Center for Poverty Research “Poverty Research and Policy Summit” in April 2016. Ross Thompson gave an invited presentation, “New Perspectives on the Science of Early Childhood Development”, to the Early Childhood Working Group of the American Enterprise Institute in 2016. Ross Thompson also presented “Origins and Impacts of Disparities in Early Childhood” to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Grand Rounds.


Marianne Page Professor of Economics
Katherine Conger Professor of Human Ecology
Amanda Guyer Associate Professor of Human Ecology and of the Center for Mind & Brain
Paul Hastings Professor and Chair of Psychology and of the Center for Mind & Brain
Ann Stevens Professor of Economics, and Interim Dean of the Graduate School of Management
Ross Thompson Distinguished Professor of Psychology
Jessica Harold Program Coordinator of the Center for Poverty Research
Lupe Sanchez Center Manager of the Center for Poverty Research
Jonah Cox Graduate Student of Human Ecology
Kristina Gelardi Graduate Student of Human Ecology
Natalie Troxel Graduate Student of Psychology
Megan Waechter Graduate Student of Human Ecology
LillyBelle Deer Graduate Student of Psychology
Gaetano Basso Graduate Student of Economics
Chloe East Graduate Student of Economics
Ariel Marek Graduate Student of Economics
Na’ama Shenav Graduate Student of Economics
David Weissman Graduate Student of Psychology
Siobhan O’Keefe Graduate Student of Economics
Matthew Naven Graduate Student of Economics
Georges Han Graduate Student of Psychology
Abby Lavine Graduate Student of Psychology
Natalia Orlova Graduate Student of Economics
Sarah Kahle Graduate Student of Psychology
Jonas Miller Graduate Student of Psychology
Brianna Balis Graduate Student of Economics
John Blanchette Graduate Student of Economics
Michel Grosz Graduate Student of Economics
Chuan He Graduate Student of Economics
Annie Hines Graduate Student of Economics
Ersa Kose Graduate Student of Economics
Katherine Kramer Graduate Student of Economics
Zhi Li Graduate Student of Human Development
Ariel Pihl Graduate Student of Economics
Zachary Psick Graduate Student of Sociology
Monica Rodriguez Graduate Student of Economics
Cynthia van de werf Cuadros Graduate Student of Economics

For more information on this program, please contact Christine Parks at [email protected].