Linking family hardship to children's lives.
The impact of drastic income loss on children is mediated by a number of family adaptations, including the shift toward more labor-intensive households and altered relationships. Using newly developed codes on parenting behavior during the Great Depression, this study investigates the role of parental behavior (rejecting, nonsupportive) in linking economic hardship to children's lives in the Oakland Growth Study. The results extend beyond those reported in Children of the Great Depression by showing that economic hardship adversely influenced the psychosocial well-being of girls, but not boys, by increasing the rejecting behavior of fathers. The parenting behavior of mothers did not vary significantly by income loss. In addition, the rejecting influence of hard-pressed fathers was more pronounced in relation to less attractive daughters, as judged by physical features. Attractive daughters were not likely to be maltreated by their fathers, no matter how severe the economic pressure. These outcomes on family mediation and conditional effects underscore the importance of viewing economic decline in relation to both the child's characteristics and parenting behavior. An understanding of the effects of economic decline in children's lives requires knowledge of parent and child behavior within the family and life course.
Elder, GH; Nguyen, TV; Caspi, A
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