Most poor children achieve less, exhibit more problem behaviors and are less healthy than children reared in more affluent families. Looking beyond these well-known correlations between poverty and negative outcomes in childhood, Ariel Kalil will talk about recent research which assesses the impact of childhood poverty on later attainment and health. She pays particular attention to the potentially harmful effects that early childhood poverty has on later life and to links between early poverty and adult outcomes such as earnings and work hours, as well as obesity and other productivity-impairing health conditions. Kalil will present evidence suggesting that prenatal and early-childhood poverty have substantial negative associations with adult earnings, work hours and certain health conditions, but not with such behavioral outcomes as out-of-wedlock childbearing and arrests.
Kalil is professor in the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, where she directs the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy and co-directs the Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab. She is a developmental psychologist who studies how economic conditions and parents' socioeconomic status affect child development and parental behavior. Her recent projects have examined the effects of the Great Recession on parental behavior and child development, and the association between income inequality and children's educational attainment.
This talk is open to Center for Child and Family Policy and Public Policy faculty, researchers, staff and invited guests.
Children face very different chances of getting ahead in life, depending on the circumstances of their birth. Gaps in children's development stem at least in part from the myriad differences in the ways advantaged and disadvantaged parents interact with their children. As such, parenting plays a critical role in the diverging destinies of rich and poor children. Traditional policy interventions fail to attack the root cause of achievement gaps. To equalize the playing field, governments may need to invest in parents so parents can better invest in their children. Unfortunately, large-scale parenting interventions typically yield modest effect sizes at best and often do not even change children's skills in the long term. Understanding what motivates parents to invest in their children could have a major impact on the design of policies to reduce inequality in children's skill development. Insights from the field of behavioral economics can inform this question.
Kalil is professor in the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, where she directs the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy and co-directs the Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab.