TABLE 10-2 Poverty and Affluence Among Young (Under 6 Years of Age) Children in 16 Countries

Nation

Percent Poor

Percent Affluent

Year

United States

26.0

6.0

1997

United Kingdom

24.2

6.6

1995

Italy

19.2

4.6

1995

Canada

17.4

2.8

1994

Germany

12.4

2.8

1994

Israel

11.7

6.2

1992

Spain

11.6

8.3

1990

Netherlands

8.6

1.3

1994

France

8.0

4.7

1994

Finland

7.7

1.7

1995

Belgium

6.4

1.7

1992

Austria

5.9

0.7

1987

Denmark

5.6

1.3

1992

Norway

5.3

1.3

1995

Sweden

3.7

1.0

1995

Luxembourg

3.0

3.6

1994

NOTE: “Poor” is defined as family-size-adjusted income less than 50 percent of country median income. “Affluent” is defined as family-size-adjusted income greater than 200 percent of country median income. Equivalence scale is the square root of family size.

SOURCE: Calculations by Lee Rainwater based on data from the LuxembourgIncome Study.

persistently poor (Duncan et al., 1994). On average, family incomes increase as children age, but average patterns conceal a great deal of year-to-year volatility, making it important to consider how economic resources at different points during the childhood years affect development. The malleability of young children's development and the overwhelming importance of the family (rather than school or peer) context suggest that economic conditions in early childhood may be far more important for shaping children's ability, behavior, and achievement than conditions later in childhood.

Efforts to understand the developmental effects of poverty have relied on both experimental and nonexperimental studies. Experimental designs involving manipulation of family incomes are extremely rare. In four income maintenance experiments in the 1960s and 1970s, experimental treatment families received a guaranteed minimum income. Impacts on pre-school children, however, were not assessed. School performance and attendance were affected positively in some sites for school-age children, but not for high school adolescents. In two sites reporting high school completion and advanced education, these were higher for the experimental



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement