Income inequality and child maltreatment risk during economic recession
© 2020 While several studies have examined the link between economic downturns and child maltreatment, the evidence linking economic downturns to child maltreatment is not consistent and cannot be generalized to the U.S. as a whole. This study builds on prior literature by extending the investigation of this association to 48 of the 50 U.S. states using National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) data on child maltreatment reports from 2004 to 2013. Since the effects of economic recessions are not equally distributed in society, this study also examines whether the association between macroeconomic recessions (measured using large-scale involuntary job losses) and child maltreatment reports differs by the level of income inequality in states. Using a fixed-effects regression approach, we find that involuntary job losses are associated with increased rates of physical abuse reports, but not reports of other types of child maltreatment. We also find that the effects on reports on physical abuse and other types of maltreatment are largest in states with relatively low levels of income inequality. This surprising finding may be explained by the worse prospects of reemployment in low-inequality states, where families may experience more stress and uncertainty related to job losses.
Schenck-Fontaine, A; Gassman-Pines, A
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