While money might not be the single most critical ingredient in child rearing, the ability to provide basics such as food, shelter, healthcare, and education can make a significant difference in a child’s overall well being. And a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that increased cash flow might be especially helpful when it comes to caring for children facing emotional or behavioral obstacles.
In 2011 7.5 percent of 6 to 11-year-olds were on prescription medication for emotional and behavioral problems such as ADHD, anxiety, and depression according to the paper. But that figure was 9.2 percent for children whose families fell below the poverty line
The study’s authors, Randall Akee of UCLA, Emilia Simeonova of Johns Hopkins, and E. Jane Costello and William Copeland of Duke, suggest that children’s well being may improve along with household income. In order to investigate the impact of an increase in household income—while omitting the positive impact that a change in career or education among parents might play—the study took a look at unearned income. Researchers looked at Native American families who started receiving an average annual payment of $4,000 per adult tribe member after a casino opened on tribal land. Prior to the casino opening, the average income of these households was $22,145. As a control group, they also included non Native American families who didn’t benefit from the new casino. They interviewed parents and children annually, from around the age of 9 until kids were 16 years old. They then followed up with the kids periodically to see how they were doing in adulthood.