Probability of living through a period of economic instability

Nam, Ilsung
Friedline, Terri
Wealth Transfer
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 reports 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 this first paper we find that between 2005 and 2009 the probability of a low-income child living through an income shock is between 43% (major shock) and 55% (minor shock). In contrast, the chance of a high-income child experiencing an income shock is between 6% (major shock) and 15% (minor shock) during the same period. We also find that the probability that a child will experience a net worth asset shock close to doubles for a child living in a black or low-income family between 2005 and 2009 when compared to 2000 and 2004. Policy implications are discussed.


Elliott, W., Nam, I., and Friedline, T. (2013). Probability of living through a period of economic instability. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(3), p. 453-460. 

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