Well-Being of Children in Working Poor and Other Families: 1997 and 2004. Summary

09/01/2008

The well-being of children in working poor families improved significantly between 1997 and 2004 for 10 of 15 measures that were available in both years and remained stable for the remaining measures.[ix] (It should be noted that the percentage of children in working poor families as a percentage of children in all poor families increased from 37 percent in 1997 to 57 percent in 2004, and that the children in working poor families in 2004 are not likely to be the same children in such families in 1997.)  Thus, the working poor in 2004 probably include a sizable number of families who, in the absence of welfare reform, would not have made a substantial work effort.)  For the remaining five measures, there was no significant change.  In contrast, for the same 15 measures, the well-being of children in non-working poor families improved significantly for only five measures and deteriorated for four measures.

In 2004, the well-being of children in working poor families was better than for children in non-working poor families in 12 of the 17 measures available in 2004 that reflect child well-being or have been shown by research to be associated with child well-being.[x] In contrast, in 1997, children in working poor families had an advantage over children in non-working poor families only in the two variables measuring the parents attitude toward the community and were at a disadvantage in four measures (Wertheimer, Long & Jager, 2002).

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