The effects of poverty on child health and development

J. Lawrence Aber, Neil G. Bennett, Dalton C. Conley, Jiali Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Poverty has been shown to negatively influence child health and development along a number of dimensions. For example, poverty-net of a variety of potentially confounding factors-is associated with increased neonatal and postneonatal mortality rates, greater risk of injuries resulting from accidents or physical abuse/neglect, higher risk for asthma, and lower developmental scores in a range of tests at multiple ages. Despite the extensive literature available that addresses the relationship between poverty and child health and development, as yet there is no consensus on how poverty should be operationalized to reflect its dynamic nature. Perhaps more important is the lack of agreement on the set of controls that should be included in the modeling of this relationship in order to determine the 'true' or net effect of poverty, independent of its cofactors. In this paper, we suggest a general model that should be adhered to when investigating the effects of poverty on children. We propose a standard set of controls and various measures of poverty that should be incorporated in any study, when possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-483
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Public Health
StatePublished - 1997


  • child morbidity
  • cognitive development
  • infant mortality
  • poverty
  • poverty measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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