What Money Can't Buy: Family Income and Children's Life Chances available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- Harvard University Press
Children from poor families generally do a lot worse than children from affluent families. They are more likely to develop behavior problems, to score lower on standardized tests, and to become adults in need of public assistance.
Susan Mayer asks whether income directly affects children's life chances, as many experts believe, or if the factors that cause parents to have low incomes also impede their children's life chances. She explores the question of causation with remarkable ingenuity. First, she compares the value of income from different sources to determine, for instance, if a dollar from welfare is as valuable as a dollar from wages. She then investigates whether parents' income after an event, such as teenage childbearing, can predict that event. If it can, this suggests that income is a proxy for unmeasured characteristics that affect both income and the event. Next she compares children living in states that pay high welfare benefits with children living in states with low benefits. Finally, she examines whether national income trends have the expected impact on children. Regardless of the research technique, the author finds that the effect of income on children's outcomes is smaller than many experts have thought.
Mayer then shows that the things families purchase as their income increases, such as cars and restaurant meals, seldom help children succeed. On the other hand, many of the things that do benefit children, such as books and educational outings, cost so little that their consumption depends on taste rather than income. Money alone, Mayer concludes, does not buy either the material or the psychological well-being that children require to succeed.
|Publisher:||Harvard University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.44(w) x 9.47(h) x 0.79(d)|
About the Author
Susan E. Mayer is Associate Professor, Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
Table of Contents
America's Response to Poverty
From Moral Guidance to Income Support
The Cycle Repeats
Changes in Government Expenditures on Poor Children
How Rich and Poor Children Differ
Measures of Children's Well-Being
How Large Are the Differences?
Why Parental Income Might Be Important
Conventional Estimates of the Effect of Income
What Other Studies Show
Re-estimating the Conventional Model
Changes in Parental Income
The "True" Effect of Income
The Source of Income
Income before and after an Outcome
Income and Material Well-Being
How Families Spend Additional Money
Income and Material Hardship
Living Conditions and Children 's Outcomes
Income, Psychological Well-Being, and Parenting Practices
Income and Parental Stress
Income and Parenting Practices
More Evidence on the "True" Effect of Income
Trends in Parents' Income and Children's Outcomes
State Welfare Benefits and Children's Outcomes
What Social Experiments Show
Helping Poor Children
Raising Parental Income
How Much Is Enough?
Changing Parents' Noneconomic Characteristics
Where the Trouble Begins
Appendix: Description of the Samples and Variables
Appendix: Conventional Estimates of the Effect of Income
Appendix: The "True" Effect of Income
Appendix: Index Construction
Appendix: More Evidence on the "True" Effect of Income