Poor outcomes: Negative effects of poverty are evident across the life course
By Susan Brower, Minnesota Compass
As I looked across the income breakdowns that we feature on the site, I am struck by the powerful impact of poverty across the life span. In Minnesota we see poorer outcomes for those with lower incomes starting in early childhood, continuing through grade school and high school, and into adulthood and old age.
Our data show that economically disadvantaged residents in our state are:
This pattern of undesirable outcomes for low-income Minnesotans across a range of life stages demonstrates how poverty alters all aspects of life. I am particularly concerned for children born into poverty when I see the range of barriers they are likely to face over the course of their lives.
In 2008, about 13 percent of all children under age 5 and 10 percent of school-age children in Minnesota were living in poverty. In raw numbers, that is about 140,000 kids across the state.
It makes sense to start with our youngest residents. Researchers at the University of Chicago estimate that about half the inequality in the present value of Americans' lifetime earnings is due to factors determined by age 18. And economists have repeatedly proven that early interventions in the lives of children will reap enormous long-term returns for everyone.
There is a publication produced by First Focus called "Big Ideas for Children: Investing in our Nation's Future" that I think is tremendously informative to this discussion. In addition to compiling the evidence that supports the claim that early childhood investment pays off, it also addresses the difficult question of how we might afford to pay for these early investments, and proposes specific policies that hold promise in addressing child poverty. Individual chapters can be found in the Early Childhood and Disparities libraries on the Minnesota Compass web site.