Socioeconomic Status

3741 words 15 pages
Socioeconomic Status and Child Development Socioeconomic status (SES) is one of the most widely studied constructs in the social sciences. Several ways of measuring SES have been proposed, but most include some quantification of family income, parental education, and occupational status. Research shows that SES is associated with a wide variety of health, cognitive, and socioemotional outcomes in children, with effects beginning prior to birth and continuing into adulthood. A variety of mechanisms linking SES to child well-being have been proposed, with most involving differences in access to material and social resources. For children, SES impacts well-being at multiple levels. One possible relationship between child development and …show more content…

Higher rates of substance abuse have been reported for low-SES teens, but findings are inconsistent. The relation is often mediated through friends' use of substances, academic competence, and parental supportiveness. It is also connected with the experience of negative life events (US Dep. Health & Human Services 2000). There are two leading theories, social causation and social selection/drift, help to identify the relationship between SES and socioemotional adjustment. The social causation explanation holds that mental disorders result from poverty and its cofactors; the social selection explanation holds that those with mental disorders gradually drift into lower SES strata. In overview, there is substantial evidence linking low SES to less optimal outcomes in nearly every area of functioning. For low-SES children, it is difficult to predict whether a particular health, cognitive, or emotional problem may eventually emerge. However it is somewhat easier to predict that low-SES children are likely to experience more developmental problems than affluent children.

Studies on SES offer a variety of proposed mechanisms linking SES and child well-being. Most hypothesized mechanisms have been related to resources such as nutrition, access to health care, housing, cognitively stimulating materials and experiences, along with parenting, and stress inducing environments. For a given child from low-SES developmental


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