Well-Being of Children in Working Poor and Other Families: 1997 and 2004. Measures associated with how well a child will develop

09/01/2008

All results in this category are displayed in Table 2.

Television rules. 

Between 1997 and 2004, the mean value of the television rules index increased from 2.16 to 2.24 for children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold, indicating more rules in the later time period, but remained unchanged for the other three groups.

In 2004, as in 1997, there were no significant differences at the .05 level in the mean value of the television rules index across the four work-poverty groups.

Meals with mother.  Between 1997 and 2004, the mean value of the meals with mother measure increased for both children in working poor families (9.61 to 10.04) and children in families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold (9.83 to 9.93).  There was no significant change for the other two groups.

In 2004 as in 1997, there were no significant differences in the mean value of the meals with mother measure.

Meals with father.  The mean value of the meals with father measure increased for children in non-working poor families (8.97 to 9.58), increased for children in working poor families (8.42 to 8.81), and also increased for children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold (7.97 to 8.21).  There was no significant change for children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold.

In 2004 as in 1997, the mean value of the meals with father measure was lower (8.81) for children in working poor families than for children in non-working poor families (9.58).  However, in 2004, the mean value of this measure was higher for children in working poor families than for children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold (8.27) and children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold (8.21).  (Only the latter difference was significant in 1997.)

Parental aggravation.  Parental aggravation decreased between 1997 and 2004 for all four categories of children.  The increases in the mean value of the index (higher index values indicate lower parental aggravation) were as follows:  children in non-working poor families  9.19 to 9.43; children in working poor families  9.32 to 9.76; children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold  9.49 to 9.88; and children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold  9.48 to 9.86.

In 2004, the mean value of the parental aggravation index was higher (9.76)  higher index values again indicate lower parental aggravation) for children in working poor families than for children in non-working poor families (9.43).  In 1997, the corresponding difference for these two groups was not statistically significant.

Father involvement.  Father involvement increased substantially between 1997 and 2004 for all four categories of children.  The increases in the mean value of the index were as follows: children in non-working poor families  7.85 to 9.42; children in working poor families  7.61 to 9.29; children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold  7.85 to 9.24; and children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold  8.15 to 9.69.

In 2004, the difference in the mean value of the father involvement index between children in working poor families (9.29) and children in non-working poor families (9.42) was not statistically significant.  In contrast, in 1997, the mean value of this index was lower for children in working poor families than for children in non-working poor families.  The mean value of the index for children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold was higher (9.69) than for children in working poor families.  The difference in the mean value of the index between children in working poor families and children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold was not statistically significant.

Mother involvement.  Mother involvement increased substantially between 1997 and 2004 for all four categories of children.  The increases in the mean value of the index were as follows: children in non-working poor families  8.56 to 9.55; children in working poor families  8.61 to 9.66; children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold  8.79 to 9.73; and children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold  9.03 to 10.03.

In 2004, the differences across the four groups mirrored the results for father involvement.  The difference in the mean value of the mother involvement index between children in working poor families (9.66) and both children in non-working poor families and children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold (9.55 and 9.73, respectively) were not statistically significant.  However, the mean value of the index for children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold was higher (10.03) than for children in working poor families.

Living apart from parents.  Between 1997 and 2004, among children in non-working poor families, the percentage that had lived apart from their parents increased from 5 percent to 7 percent.  The corresponding percentage for children in working poor families remained unchanged at 6 percent.  However, the percentage of children who had lived apart from their parents decreased between 1997 and 2004 for children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold (6 percent to 5 percent) and for children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold (5 percent to 4 percent).

In 2004, the difference in the percentage of children who had lived apart from their parents for children in working poor families (6 percent) and children in non-working poor families (7 percent) was not statistically significant at the .05 level.  However, children in working poor families were more likely to have lived apart from their parents than children in working families with incomes between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty threshold (5 percent) and children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold (4 percent).

Parental educational aspirations.  Because parental educations aspirations were measured differently in the 2002 study of children in working poor families, 1997-2004 comparisons are not possible.  We note that SIPP data, like other studies, find that parents at all income levels tend to have high educational aspirations for their children.

 In 2004, parental aspirations for their child having more education and training after college were higher (27 percent for mothers and 31 percent for fathers) for children in working poor families than for children in non-working poor families (24 percent for mothers and 25 percent for fathers).  However, parental aspirations for more education and training after college were lower for mothers of children in working poor families than for mothers of children in working families with incomes above twice the poverty threshold (34 percent).[viii]

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