Published: March 8, 2020

Download: Life Course Centre Working Paper: 2020-02


Seth D. Pollak and Barbara L. Wolfe.

Non-Technical Summary:

Nearly 1 in 5 children in the United States lives in a household whose income is below the official federal poverty line, and more than 40% of children live in poor or near-poor households. Research on the effects of poverty on children’s development has been a focus of study for many decades and is now increasing as we learn more about the implications of poverty for children. A recent addition to the study of the implications of poverty for children has been the application of neuroscience-based methods. Various techniques including neuroimaging, neuroendocrinology, cognitive psychophysiology, and epigenetics are beginning to document ways in which early experiences of living in poverty affect infant and child brain development. In this paper, we discuss whether there are truly worthwhile reasons for adding neuroscience and related biological methods to study child poverty, and how their use and the knowledge they produce, might help guide developmentally-based and targeted interventions and policies for these children and their families.


March 8, 2020