The Great Recession and Children’s Behavior

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Columbia University
William J. Schneider, Columbia University
Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University

This paper examines the effects of the Great Recession (December 2007 – June 2009) on children’s behavior. The study draws on the 9-year wave of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. The study also employs data from the Consumer Sentiment Index, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Mortgage Bankers Association. We ask whether worsening macroeconomic indicators were associated with increased children’s problem behaviors and if so, whether these effects were more pronounced for male children or those with more socio-economically disadvantaged mothers. We also examine a set of potential mediators that might explain some of the effects of the macroeconomic indicators on children’s behavior. We find preliminary evidence that the Great Recession was associated with externalizing and internalizing behaviors and teacher reports of problem behaviors, and particularly for boys and for children whose mothers have low levels of education or are living in poverty.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 103: Economic and Social Consequences of the Great Recession