The effects of economic instability on children’s educational outcomes

Children's Savings Account
Publication type: 
Journal Article

Welfare Based on Assets, a Way to Smooth Out Economic Instability and Develop Children's Human Capital is a four-part series of papers that focuses on the relationship between economic instability (i.e., income shocks, asset shocks, home loss, and asset poverty) and children's human capital development. Collectively, these reports build on the compelling observation that the pattern low-income families walk into is a present time oriented or consumption based pattern of behavior; in contrast, the pattern higher income families walk into is future oriented or asset based. In the third paper we find in most cases income shocks and asset shocks do not appear to be harmful to children's educational outcomes. However, children living in liquid and net worth asset poor families have lower academic achievement scores, high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, and college graduation rates than children living in families that are asset sufficient. Overall, findings can be interpreted as suggesting that a bifurcated welfare system, with income-based programs for poor families and asset-based programs for higher income families, may provide higher income families with an educational advantage over low-income families and might ultimately help exacerbate educational inequalities in America.


Elliott, W. (2013). The effects of economic instability on children’s educational outcomes. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(3), p. 461-471. 

New Book Released

Today’s student loan system is in place because of a political compromise, and growing discontent with student debt may signal that this arrangement has run its course. While there are resources and organizations in place to help those struggling with debt, the time has come to consider a new direction for financial aid, William Elliott III and Melinda Lewis argue in “Student Debt: A Reference Handbook.”

Why KU
  • One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
  • Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
  • 44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
  • 23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times