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Examining childhood poverty and future developmental and academic outcomes of children in British Columbia : differences by poverty type and immigration background Gill, Randip


Background: Childhood poverty exposes children to conditions at the household and neighbourhood level that are associated with developmental detriments. Prior studies examining the impact of poverty have lacked consideration of differences based upon the poverty type experienced, and children’s immigration background. The goal of this dissertation was to investigate how different types of poverty experiences are associated with developmental outcomes of children in British Columbia (B.C.), and whether these associations differ based on the child’s immigration background. Methods: This dissertation utilized a retrospective, population-based cohort study, linking administrative records with survey data for children residing in B.C. The poverty exposure types investigated were neighbourhood poverty only, household poverty only, and “combined” neighbourhood and household poverty. The outcomes examined included school readiness at kindergarten, health and life satisfaction during middle childhood, and high school grades and whether children were on-track to graduate, utilizing a series of regression analyses. The interaction between poverty and various immigration backgrounds was explored. Mediation analyses were also conducted to investigate the association of poverty with middle childhood outcomes through the lens of children's social support experiences. Immigrant generation status, immigration admission category, and region of origin of the child was examined depending upon the age of poverty exposure and outcome under study. Results: Children who experienced combined household and neighbourhood poverty generally scored the lowest in developmental, health, and educational outcomes in each analysis, followed by children experiencing only a single poverty type, and then by those not experiencing poverty. However, the association between poverty exposure and outcomes varied with the specific combination of poverty type and immigration background of the child, particularly regarding high school education outcomes. First-generation immigrants generally demonstrated fewer detriments due to poverty. An indirect effect through children’s experiences of social support was also found. Conclusion: Each type of poverty experience was nearly universally associated with detriments to developmental outcomes for children. Intervention to alleviate poverty-related detriments might include economic policy and addressing children’s social support needs, with children experiencing combined poverty potentially benefitting the most. Interventions should also consider the nuance in differences based upon the specific immigration background of children.

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