Childhood deprivation experience, family pathways, and socioemotional functioning.

Liwei Zhang, Wen Jui Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the ECLS-K, a dataset following a nationally representative cohort of children from kindergarten through 8th grade in the United States (N ≈ 9,250), this study fills the following knowledge gaps. We captured childhood economic experiences by incorporating multiple forms of exposures to income-based deprivation—poverty depth (i.e., the severity of deprivation), spells (i.e., length of time in poverty), and income volatility (i.e., fluctuations in family income)—with a latent class analysis. We also examined how different patterns of economic experiences shaped adolescents’ socioemotional functioning through family stress (parental depressive symptoms and punitive parenting) and family investment (provision of stimulating materials and parental school involvement) pathways via structural equation modeling. Our analysis indicated 6 classes of deprivation, and these deprivation patterns had both direct and indirect significant associations with children’s locus of control and internalizing behaviors. Our structural equation modeling results further indicated that deprivation was associated with parental depressive symptoms, which were, in turn, associated with parents providing less cognitively stimulating materials to children and engaging less in children’s school activities. These disadvantages were associated with unfavorable socioemotional functioning in 8th grade. The findings highlight the importance of family practitioners and psychologists recognizing and acting on the interconnections among deprivation, inequity, and child well-being. Our results also suggest considering variations in economic experiences and mechanisms when developing informed policies and programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • family investment
  • family stress
  • income-based deprivation
  • latent class analysis
  • socioemotional functioning
  • United States
  • Humans
  • Child, Preschool
  • Male
  • Psychosocial Functioning
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences/psychology
  • Parenting/psychology
  • Child of Impaired Parents/psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Internal-External Control
  • Female
  • Adolescent Behavior/psychology
  • Behavioral Symptoms/psychology
  • Child
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Cohort Studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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