Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 410–420 | Cite as

Modeling Family Economic Conditions and Young Children’s Development in Rural United States: Implications for Poverty Research

  • Kirsten Kainz
  • Michael T. Willoughby
  • Lynne Vernon-Feagans
  • Margaret R. Burchinal
  • Family Life Project Investigators
Original Paper


In this study we examined the additive and multiplicative relations between poverty status, material hardship, liquid assets, non-liquid assets, and children’s cognitive skills and social problems at 36 months. The data were from a representative sample of 1,292 children in six rural counties in the United States. Findings indicated that income, material hardship, and non-liquid assets explained unique variation in young children’s development. Material hardship was associated with more social problems for children. Poverty status was associated with lower cognitive skills, and non-liquid assets were associated with higher cognitive skills at 36 months. We concluded that models that estimate the relation between poverty and child outcomes without including measures of hardship and assets could be underspecified.


Poverty Hardship Assets Child development 



Support for this research was provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grants R01 HD51502 and P01 HD39667, with co-funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsten Kainz
    • 1
  • Michael T. Willoughby
    • 2
  • Lynne Vernon-Feagans
    • 2
    • 3
  • Margaret R. Burchinal
    • 2
  • Family Life Project Investigators
  1. 1.Strategic Education Research PartnershipWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Frank Porter Graham Child Development InstituteUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillCarrboroUSA
  3. 3.School of EducationUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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