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Family Economic Security Policies and Child and Family Health


In this review, we examine the effects of family economic security policies (i.e., minimum wage, earned income tax credit, unemployment insurance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) on child and family health outcomes, summarize policy generosity across states in the USA, and discuss directions and possibilities for future research. This manuscript is an update to a review article that was published in 2014. Millions of Americans are affected by family economic security policies each year, many of whom are the most vulnerable in society. There is increasing evidence that these policies impact health outcomes and behaviors of adults and children. Further, research indicates that, overall, policies which are more restrictive are associated with poorer health behaviors and outcomes; however, the strength of the evidence differs across each of the four policies. There is significant diversity in state-level policies, and it is plausible that these policy variations are contributing to health disparities across and within states. Despite increasing evidence of the relationship between economic policies and health, there continues to be limited attention to this issue. State policy variations offer a valuable opportunity for scientists to conduct natural experiments and contribute to evidence linking social policy effects to family and child well-being. The mounting evidence will help to guide future research and policy making for evolving toward a more nurturing society for family and child health and well-being.

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The National Institute On Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01MD010241 supported research reported in this publication. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Kelli A. Komro.

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Spencer, R.A., Komro, K.A. Family Economic Security Policies and Child and Family Health. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 20, 45–63 (2017).

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  • Social determinants
  • Economic security
  • Policy
  • Health
  • Family
  • Child