Child Indicators Research

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 99–113 | Cite as

Ecological Predictors of Perceiving Scarcity in Childhood

  • Jorge CuartasEmail author
  • Catalina Rey-Guerra


Evidence from multiple disciplines suggests there is a strong association between poverty and child development, mediated by worry and stress. Nevertheless, it is unclear why some children worry more about their family’s economic situation than others. In this paper, we analyze ecological predictors of worrying for family money in childhood. For this purpose, we use the second wave of the International Survey of Children’s Well-being (ISCWeB), in which children from 16 developed and developing countries stated whether they worry about their family having money. The dataset also contains rich information about individual characteristics, such as age and gender, and contextual factors, such as home and family life, neighborhood quality, school life, and relationships with peers. Using descriptive analysis and ordered probit models, we find that family relationship quality, school climate, and peer involvement are the main predictors of children perceiving scarcity, even after controlling for other individual characteristics and heterogeneity across countries. Yet, other individual and contextual factors (e.g., school satisfaction and neighborhood quality) are also significant predictors. Based on the results, we discuss research and policy implications aimed at formulating strategies to reduce the adverse consequences of poverty and children’s resultant worries about economic scarcity.


Perceiving scarcity Ecological Context Child Poverty Well-Being International 



We are grateful to Hanita Kosher and Gwyther Rees for helping us access and understand the database that we relied on to produce this paper. We also thank Philipp Hessel, Jose Guerra, Juan Camilo Cristancho, Martín Montenegro, and three anonymous reviewers for their comments. We are especially thankful to Sandra García, Andrés Molano, and Darío Maldonado for all their support over the past years. The data used in this publication come from the second wave of Children’s Worlds: International Survey of Children’s Well-Being - ISCWeB ( The views expressed here are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of ISCWeB.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of GovernmentUniversidad de los AndesBogotáColombia
  2. 2.Colombian Institute for the Assessment of Education (ICFES) & School of GovernmentUniversidad de los AndesBogotáColombia

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