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Dev Psychol. 2004 May;40(3):367-77.

The relations between persistent poverty and contextual risk and children's behavior in elementary school.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.


Does persistent adversity over time have effects on children's behavior beyond the effects of intermittent or concurrent adversity? This study examined the relations between school behavior in 5th grade (mean age = 11 years 0 months) and indexes representing persistent poverty and contextual risk. The indexes described 2-year intervals of family adversity. The results showed effects for persistent risk over 2 consecutive intervals for several factors, but only for recent intervals (3rd and 5th grades), and the factors differed for externalizing behavior, internalizing behavior, and academic competence. The 3rd interval of risk added little to the outcomes, and most factors did not show persistence effects. The results highlight the need for caution in expecting and interpreting effects for persistent adversity.

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