Helping Out to Get By: The Poverty Paradox in Children’s Food Insecurity

Justin T. Denney, Rice University
Rachel T. Kimbro, Rice University

In the U.S., one of the most developed nations in the world, more than 1 in 5 households with children are unable to access and provide adequate food for a healthy, active lifestyle. Prior work has established important individual and family predictors of food insecurity but largely failed to account for local context. We examine the relevance of neighborhood contributors to food insecurity among children, utilizing geocoded, nationally-representative data from the ECLS-K. We propose and test hypotheses suggesting 1) an accumulation of family and neighborhood risks and 2) a poverty paradox, whereby the most disadvantaged families in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods may have better access to helpful resources or collaborate to alleviate food insecurity. We find that neighborhood environments matter over and above characteristics of individual families and that family and neighborhood traits combine in ways consistent with the poverty paradox.

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Presented in Session 206: Place Effects and Health: Methodological Innovations and New Findings