Childhood Poverty and Child Development

Chaudry and Wimer (2016) aimed to establish whether there is a link between poverty and a child’s wellbeing and if it is there, the nature of the relationship between the two factors. To meet its objective, Chaudry and Wimer (2016) started by acknowledging that the rate of childhood poverty in the United States has remained relatively high over the past 40 years; at 20% or 1 in every 5 children. The article has defined poverty as a situation where a child lives in a family whose annual income or economic resources are below the consistent threshold considered insufficient to cover for basic needs. Childhood poverty was described as an important statistic that informs whether the economy is functional and if the economic well-being is being distributed to the most vulnerable populations. Further, the statistic was found important to inform whether the economy was capable of equipping the nation for the future through helping in the formation of human capital for the future.

Through data gathered from different statistics, Chaudry and Wimer (2016) demonstrated that children from poor families performed less well than their counterparts from higher income families. The spectrums that have been reported include health conditions, development and academic performance, wealth, and hardships in early adulthood. Poverty was casually related to poor outcomes at maturity.

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In describing the mechanics of how poverty leads to poor outcomes in future, Chaudry and Wimer (2016) explain that poverty leads to material hardships. These hardships reduce the propensity of such families to afford enough and nutritious food, poor medical care, and parental capacities necessary in the contribution of children’s development and educational outcomes. For instance, toy and books. Second, poverty was found to compromise on the quality of environment conducive to healthy child development. On the concept of conducive environment, poverty was found to add to parental stress and relational qualities necessary for rearing children. Lastly, poverty was found to contribute to a heightened experience of context of chaos. Chaotic lives right from home to the community in terms of poor housing, violence and extreme disorganization worsen socioemotional outcomes for children. Chaos tamper with the ability of children to adapt physiologically.

Poverty varies in its timing, duration and concentration. It was reported that close to a third of American children experience poverty at least for a year in their childhood and more than 60% never experience it. Children that experience poverty, for even a year, have worse outcomes than those who never; this indicates the delicate nature of the situation. Chaudry and Wimer (2016) established that poverty at early childhood has the strongest association to negative cognitive development and academic outcomes. Chronic poverty when compared to short term poverty was found to be more serious when it came to poor development outcomes.

In conclusion, Chaudry and Wimer (2016) established that in general, poverty has negative outcomes in child development. To further the gain in knowledge, it was reported that more rigorous and innovative research was critical in establishment of biological effects of poverty. Further, the study recommended the use of public policy in tackling childhood poverty.


Chaudry, A., & Wimer, C. (2016). Poverty is not just an indicator: the relationship between income, poverty, and child well-being. Academic pediatrics, 16(3), S23-S29. Retrieved

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