Economic Hardship and Its Consequences Across Generations

Katherine Jewsbury Conger, Monica J. Martin, Ben T. Reeb, Wendy M. Little, Jessica L. Craine, Barbara Shebloski and Rand D. Conger

in The Oxford Handbook of Poverty and Child Development

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199769100
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Economic Hardship and Its Consequences Across Generations


Economic hardship and its consequences were examined across 3 generations of rural Midwestern families. Information from parents (G1) and adolescents (G2) from 556 families indicated that economic hardship experienced during adolescence predicted economic hardship in young adulthood, and this process was linked to developmental outcomes of the 3rd generation (G3). Five individual and family factors decreased the association between parents’ and offspring economic hardship over a 10-year period. G1 economic hardship decreased G2's association with conventional peers, participation in extracurricular activities, later educational attainment, and parents’ assistance with college. G1 hardship also was associated with adolescent personality traits such as higher negative emotionality and lower conscientiousness. Taken together, the results indicate that economic hardship in the 1st generation diminishes the personal and social resources of youth, thus increasing risk for hardship in the next generation. This process appears to be repeating for the children of the G2 young adults.

Keywords: economic hardship; intergenerational continuity; personality; peers; educational attainment

Article.  10850 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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