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ERIC Number: ED519371
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 29
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 31
Declining Fortunes of Children in Middle-Class Families: Economic Inequality and Child Well-Being in the 21st Century. FCD Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI) Policy Brief 2011
Hernandez, Donald J.
Foundation for Child Development
Americans are struggling through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. In recent years, a significant body of research and analysis has documented the breakdown of the middle class and the impact of the current financial crisis on family income, housing, and jobs. But few reports have examined these impacts through the lens of how they affect America's children--a critical gauge of individuals' commitment to their future and the future of the nation. These concerns are the impetus for this first-ever report to address these questions: What impact are the growing income gap and the declining fortunes of the middle class and lower-income class having for the well-being of children? How can these findings help set priorities for policies in the near-term as the nation struggles to recover from the recession--and build resilience for the future? This report is based on an analysis that traces over 24 years the relationship between family income levels and positive and negative outcomes for children across key indicators of their health, education, and social relationships. New results spanning the past quarter century (1985-2008) tell what the future may hold for America's children, depending on whether past trends continue or public policies intervene. These results are based on analyses of trends in ten key indicators and four domains of child well-being included in the Foundation for Child Development (FCD) annual Child Well-Being Index (CWI), the most comprehensive measure of how well America's children are faring (Land, Lamb, and Mustillo, 2001; Land, 2010). Critical to national security are well-educated and healthy children. The findings in this report suggest that, if policymakers do not increase and use more wisely public investments in children and present trends are allowed to continue, children today will inherit a nation that is more unequal, more stratified, and less economically competitive than the nation which their parents and grandparents have experienced. This report presents findings pertaining to four specific domains: family economic well-being, community engagement, health, and social relationships. Results for these four domains are combined to form an overall index of child well-being. Viewing child well-being through the lens of children in middle-class and low-income families, compared to children in the highest income group, this report draws on results presented in a more detailed discussion of trends interpreted in the context of the full complement of 28 CWI indicators (Hernandez and Marotz, under review). (Contains 15 figures.)
Foundation for Child Development. 295 Madison Avenue 40th Floor, New York, NY 10017. Tel: 212-867-5777; Fax: 212-867-5844; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Foundation for Child Development