Panel: Differential Effects of Economic Insecurity on Children Across Rural, Suburban, and Urban Communities
(Poverty and Income Policy)

Friday, November 7, 2014: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Santa Ana (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Rebekah Levine Coley, Boston College
Panel Chairs:  Natasha Pilkauskas, Columbia University
Discussants:  Scott Allard, University of Washington and Veronica Garcia, New Mexico Voices for Children

Family Expenditures Supporting Poor Children's Success Across Rural, Suburban, and Urban Communities
Rebekah Levine Coley, Jacqueline Sims and Alicia Doyle Lynch, Boston College

Does the Effect of Local Job Loss on Student Achievement Vary in Urban Vs. Rural Areas?
Anna Gassman-Pines, Christina Gibson-Davis and Elizabeth Ananat, Duke University

Place, Poverty, and Early Academic Skills Development
Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal and Portia Miller, University of Pittsburgh

The past forty years have seen historic shifts in the distribution of economic resources across America. Growing income inequality has occurred in the context of macroeconomic changes in skilled and unskilled labor markets, welfare and housing policy modifications, and growing immigration and ethnic diversity. Together these shifts have altered the spatial distribution of poverty and economic insecurity. Indeed, suburban communities now house the largest number of poor families, although poverty rates remain higher in rural and urban areas (Kneebone & Garr, 2010). The goal of this panel is to delineate how the effects of growing poverty and economic insecurity on children may differ across rural, suburban and urban communities, with particular attention to mechanisms explaining such differences. This goal is essential in light of new evidence finding that effects of economic inequality on children’s development have grown dramatically (Reardon, 2011). Poor children are falling further behind their advantaged counterparts in school achievement and attainment, in turn exacerbating the intergenerational transmission of poverty. It is thus essential for researchers to delineate populations at particular risk and potential levers for policy intervention efforts. The papers in this panel rest on the supposition that poverty and economic inequality will be experienced differently across place. Rural communities have lower cost of living, but have experienced greater manufacturing job losses and provide limited access to enriching resources for children (quality schools, social service agencies, youth programs). Urban communities have more resources but highly concentrated poverty and income inequality, increasing stress and competition. Both rural and urban areas have heightened levels sources of environmental stress. Together, these differences may translate into stronger associations between poverty and child functioning in rural and urban areas in comparison to suburban communities. The papers in this panel provide an innovate and unique look into associations between economic insecurity and children’s development. They share in common a comparative analytic framework, assessing how poverty-child links vary across rural, suburban, and urban contexts. They differ in their datasources, analytic techniques, and mechanisms. The first paper uses CE data to assess how poor rural, suburban, and urban families differentially invest in their children. By assessing family expenditures on child-promotive resources (child care, schooling, computers and books) in comparison to expenditures on basic needs and extras, this paper identifies an important mechanism linking poverty to child functioning. The second paper uses unique state data on job losses to assess whether identified links between community-level job loss and adolescent school achievement varies by urbanicity. The final paper assesses poverty-child achievement links across urbanicity in young children, further incorporating a rich set of contextual data to identify potential mechanisms. Two expert discussants will highlight how results inform local, state, and federal policy efforts to address economic insecurity. Dr. Veronica Garcia, the Executive Director of NM Voices for Children, a leading advocacy organization, will address how local programs are informed by the results. Dr. Scott Allard of Brookings, an expert on growing suburban poverty, will focus on the place-based nature of the findings.
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