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Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
Poverty slides
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  • 1. The Biology of Disadvantage: Childhood Poverty, Health, and Achievement Nicole Hair University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Economics and Institute for Research on Poverty March 2, 2014
  • 2. Talk Outline Stylized facts about “disadvantage” and inequality Consequences of childhood poverty for physical health, behavior, early achievement and educational attainment Theoretical framework for understanding how poverty might affect children and families Exploration of potential link between childhood poverty and brain structure and development Programs and policy responses aimed at mitigating influence of poverty on children
  • 3. What is Poverty? Having little or no money or means of financial support Federal government created a set of poverty thresholds in the 1960s In 2012, the poverty threshold (FPL) for family of three was $19,090 and for a family of four it was $23,050 US poverty rate 15% and WI poverty rate 11.4% in 2012 Alternative poverty measures are increasingly recognized as important US Census Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) takes into account government benefits and necessary expenses like taxes that are not in the official measure 2012 SPM poverty rate 16% slightly higher than official rate
  • 4. Consequences of Childhood Poverty
  • 5. Income gradient in health Children (and Adults) in poorer households tend to have poorer health Relationship holds across numerous dimensions or indicators of children’s health status
  • 6. Case, Lubotsky & Paxson, Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient, American Economic Review, vol. 92, iss. 5, pp. 1308-1334 (2002) Case, Lubotsky & Paxson, Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient, American Economic Review, vol. 92, iss. 5, pp. 1308-1334 (2002)
  • 7. Marginal Effects of Parental Income Level on Children (6 to 17 years) Reported Being in Fair or Poor Health
  • 8. Marginal Effects of Household Income Level on Adults’ Health (Reported Being in Fair or Poor Health)
  • 9. Currie and Lin, Chipping Away At Health: More On The Relationship Between Income And Child Health, Health Affairs (2007) vol. 26 no. 2: 331-344 Adapted from: Currie and Lin, Chipping Away At Health: More On The Relationship Between Income And Child Health, Health Affairs (2007) vol. 26 no. 2: 331-344 Low-income children are in worse health than other children Low-income children are more likely than other children to have chronic or acute condition and are more likely to be limited by these conditions
  • 10. Income Achievement Gap Socioeconomic disparities in cognitive outcomes and academic achievement have been well-documented Childhood poverty associated with lower scores on standardized tests, poorer grades in school, & less educational attainment (Brooks-Gunn, 1997; Haveman & Wolfe, 1995; Dahl & Lochner, 2012) Observed ability gaps across SES groups open up at early ages (Duncan et al., 1998; Cuhna et al., 2006)
  • 11. Low income children enter school with higher levels of problem behavior and these differences persist
  • 12. Low income children enter school with lower levels of academic skills and these differences persist
  • 13. Bottom Line Observed income gradient in health: children in poorer households tend to have poorer health Disparities in cognitive outcomes and academic achievement also well-documented Childhood poverty associated with lower scores on standardized tests, poorer grades in school, & less educational attainment
  • 14. How does poverty lead to these disparities??
  • 15. Relatively little known about how early exposure to poverty translated into deficits in cognition and achievement Recent research efforts involving biomarkers and brain scans attempt to gain insight into “black box” linking poverty to poor health and deficits in achievement Research on tie between poverty and anatomy of the brain with Jamie Hanson, Seth Pollak, Barbara Wolfe and others Goal of project: bring insight into what “causes” income achievement gap Potential neurobiological channel - explore whether brain structure/ development may serve as one bridge linking socioeconomic status to achievement
  • 16. SES, Environment & Brain Plasticity Brain structure and development offer window into processes linking poverty to deficits in cognition and academic achievement Childhood poverty associated with inequities in both physical and psychological environments (Evans, 2004) ↑ levels of life stress (family instability, violence) and exposure to environmental toxins ↓ parental nurturance and cognitive stimulation in the home Research with animals shows strong link between environment and brain Environmental stimulation or enrichment, parental nurturance, early life stress all affect brain growth and functioning (Rosenzweig et al., 1978; Greenough et al., 1975, 1978; Zhang et al., 2004) Small studies with humans suggest alterations in structure or functioning (for review, Hackman & Hanson 2012)
  • 17. Developed to aid in understanding brain maturation in “healthy, typically-developing” infants, children, & adults Size and scope unprecedented Objective 1: children and adolescents 4 to 18 years 823 observations from 389 unique children Objective 2: infants to age 4 years 200 observations from 81 unique children Anatomic MRI scans, cognitive & behavioral assessments, demographic characteristics Scans “interpreted” using structural imaging techniques (voxel based morphometry)
  • 18. FIGURE 1: This figure shows example axial slices from a typical subject scanned at birth (left column), 2 (middle column), and 4 years old (right column). T1 MRI, T2 MRI, and segmented gray matter (green) and white matter (red) are provided. Hanson JL, Hair N, Shen DG, Shi F, Gilmore JH, et al. (2013) Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain Growth. PLoS ONE 8(12)
  • 19. A Bit of Background Anatomy of the Brain Brain can be divided into 2 hemispheres - right and left 3 types of materials or tissue Gray matter - what fires in brain White matter - wires of brain Cerebrospinal fluid - jello like substance absorbs impact Four lobes Occipital - visual regions Parietal - sensation and perception Temporal - memory, emotion, auditory Frontal - executive functions
  • 20. Selecting Brain Regions of Interest Cognitive neuroscience guides selection of brain regions of interest Selection Criteria: 1. Critical for sustained attention, planning, & cognitive flexibility Implications for learning and academic functioning 2. Protracted period of post-natal development More likely to be vulnerable to environmental experience 3. Focus on gray matter tissue Less heritable than other brain tissues (Gilmore et al., 2010)
  • 21. Brain Regions of Interest Total gray matter processing information, execution of actions Frontal lobe problem solving, attentional control, complex learning Temporal lobe memory, language comprehension (word identification, relation of heard sounds to letters of alphabet, attachment of meaning to words) Hippocampus learning, long-term memory (portion of temporal lobe)
  • 22. RESULTS: Infants 1. Infants from low-income families show delayed trajectories of brain development Used our estimated parameters to project total gray matter volume trajectories for infants of varying economic backgrounds based on the federal poverty level: 100 2. Results specific to gray matter critical for processing of information and execution of actions Infants from low-income families had lower volumes of gray matter AND slower trajectories of growth during infancy and early childhood 3. Delays tied to emergence of disruptive behavioral problems among impoverished children Use Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL); focus on childrens internalizing and externalizing behaviors
  • 23. Hanson JL, Hair N, Shen DG, Shi F, Gilmore JH, et al. (2013) Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain Growth. PLoS ONE 8(12)
  • 24. Hanson JL, Hair N, Shen DG, Shi F, Gilmore JH, et al. (2013) Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain Growth. PLoS ONE 8(12)
  • 25. Hanson JL, Hair N, Shen DG, Shi F, Gilmore JH, et al. (2013) Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain Growth. PLoS ONE 8(12)
  • 26. RESULTS: Children and Adolescents 1. Examine potential neurobiological link between between poverty and deficits in cognitive and achievement outcomes Establish a reference for normative brain development Examine influence of poverty on regions of the brain critical for scholastic achievement, adjusting for developmental norms 2. Childhood poverty associated with atypical development in total gray matter, the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the hippocampus Children from poor households display a maturational lag: Regional volumes 5 to 8 percentage points below developmental norms 3. Tie regions of the brain to performance on standardized tests Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement (WJ-III)
  • 27. Normative Developmental Curve: Temporal Lobe Gray Matter
  • 28. Normative Developmental Curve: Hippocampus Gray Matter
  • 29. 80 85 90 95 100 105 RegionalVolumeasPercentageofAge-andSex- SpecificNorm Socioeconomic Status and Anatomic Brain Development Low Income (<$25,000) 60 65 70 75 Total Gray Matter Frontal Lobe Temporal Lobe Hippocampus RegionalVolumeasPercentageofAge SpecificNorm Express regional volumes as percentage of sex- and age-specific norm Examine deviations from norm among low income children Define household as low income or “poor” if reported household income below $25,000 (approximately 133% of FPL for family of four over our sample period)
  • 30. 80 85 90 95 100 105 RegionalVolumeasPercentageofSex-andAge- SpecificNorm Socioeconomic Status and Anatomic Brain Development Poor <$25,000 Near Poor $25,000-$35,000 High Income >$35,000 60 65 70 75 Total Gray Matter Frontal Lobe Temporal Lobe Hippocampus RegionalVolumeasPercentageofSex SpecificNorm
  • 31. Takeaways: Childhood Poverty and the Brain Poverty associated with atypical development Concentrated among poorest children (below 133% FPL) Regional volumes 5 to 8 percentage points below norms Maturational lag begins to emerge in infancy Each region tied to performance on indices of academic ability and/or childhood disruptive behaviors Consequences of atypical development for scholastic success Skills important determinants for range of adult outcomes Without interventions to mitigate influence of poverty, children’s potential limited at young ages by this tie
  • 32. Programs and Policy Responses What works to lessen poverty’s influence on children? Extended development of critical brain regions establishes both greater vulnerability and opportunity Development highly sensitive to changes in the environment and nurturance - both negative and positive Suggests interventions to remediate early environments may have some success in altering link between poverty and deficits in achievement
  • 33. Income Support Programs Earned Income Tax Credit Significant increases in math and reading test scores among children whose families qualified for the credit (Dahl and Lochner, 2012) Casino revenues to American Indian families Positive effects of income disbursements on high school graduation and educational attainment (Akee et al, 2012) Can we generalize to other types of programs? Child tax credit, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increase families economic resources in similar ways.
  • 34. Early Childhood Education (3 to 5 year olds) Consistent evidence of short-run effects non-experimental evidence of long-run benefits from several program models i.e., Perry Preschool and Abecedarian Shown to increase long-term school attainment and earnings as well as reduce crime and the risk of adult poverty (Duncan, Ludwig, and Magnuson, 2010)
  • 35. Innovations and Uncertainty Home visiting programs Much to learn about how to promote positive parent-child interactions Approaches in very early childhood (birth-3) How to balance income support and employment Combining approaches Where should building parents human capital fit in?

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