A new report from researchers at Boston College and Tufts University shows the distinct emotional and educational price children pay when their families live in run down apartments and homes.
Data culled from a six-year study of 2,400 children, teens and young adults found emotional and behavioral symptoms such as anxiety, depression, lying and aggressive behavior are closely connected to poor housing quality and the related stress placed on parents, children and families, according to the report, which was published in the journal Developmental Psychology.
Children growing up in poor quality housing plagued by leaky roofs, broken windows, peeling paint, debris and vermin experience greater emotional and behavioral problems at young ages and later see their school performance suffer, researchers report in one of the most comprehensive assessments ever conducted into the impact of housing on children in the U.S.
"Through no fault of their own, children and teens whose families live in substandard housing are paying a steep price in terms of their emotional and behavioral well-being," said a lead author of the study, Boston College Professor of Education Rebekah Levine Coley. "That carries on into school and creates deficits that are extremely difficult to overcome."
Most telling was the finding that poor housing quality was the most consistent and strongest predictor of emotional and behavioral problems in low-income children and youth who were studied when compared to factors such as affordability, ownership, residential stability or housing subsidy receipt, according to the researchers, whose analysis was funded by grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the W. T. Grant Foundation.
Furthermore, residential instability – the moving from place to place, even if only a few blocks away or the town next door – disrupts the functioning of low-income children over the long term, , according to Coley, who conducted the study with Tufts University Professor Tama Leventhal. Although single moves may provide a boost to poor children and teens in the short-term, perhaps allowing them to access safer housing or better schools, over time the cumulative effect of residential instability took a toll on children, increasing emotional and behavioral problems.
A toll was taken not only on children, but their parents, generating stressful conditions within families, said Coley, a professor of Counseling, Developmental and Educational Psychology at the Lynch School of Education.
"A big takeaway is that many of these links function in part through parenting and parental stress," said Coley, whose research examines the intersection of families, neighborhoods and public policy. "We know that environmental stress can come not just from outside the home, but from the home itself when we consider the impact of living day-to-day with exposed wiring, peeling paint, rodents, poor sanitation and a lack of natural light, or with frequent moves from home to home."
An estimated two million poor children lived in run-down and unsafe housing in 2005, and double blows dealt to low-income neighborhoods by the housing crisis and the recession have likely worsened the situation.
Among the many interrelated issues the researchers untangled was the impact of affordability. While many of the families struggled with housing costs – with most paying more than 30 percent of household income toward housing – whether or not housing was affordable was not predictive of children's well-being. Similarly, living in owned homes or government-assisted housing rather than private rental stock did not outweigh the issues of quality and stability.
Researchers found a strong link between the stress poor housing quality placed on parents and the problems experienced by children, according to the report. For parents, the strain of living in substandard housing produced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The study, which focused on families living in low-income neighborhoods in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio, may serve to focus policymakers on making the link between quality and affordability in new housing legislation and regulations.
"There's a tremendous amount of attention paid to affordability and that's a critical issue for low-income families," said Coley. "What our findings suggest is that housing quality may be more important when we are concerned with the growth and development of children. The data suggest policymakers make housing quality a priority as they work to resolve the housing crisis facing low-income families."
Ed Hayward | EurekAlert!
Researchers simplify tiny structures' construction drip by drip
12.11.2018 | Princeton University, Engineering School
Mandibular movement monitoring may help improve oral sleep apnea devices
06.11.2018 | Elsevier
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences