The UC Davis Center for Poverty Research mission is to facilitate
non-partisan academic research on poverty in the
U.S., disseminate this research, and train the next
generation of poverty scholars. Our research agenda includes
four themed areas of focus: labor markets and poverty, children
and intergenerational transmission of poverty, the
non-traditional safety net, and immigration.
Economic hardship during childhood contributes to worse mental and physical health across the lifespan. Over the past decade, researchers have begun to highlight the behavioral and biological pathways that underlie these disparities, and to identify protective factors—supportive relationships, for example—that mitigate against their occurrence. In this brief, we summarize some of this recent research and the new challenges it presents. We also make suggestions to inform both policy and practice for youth experiencing economic hardship.
Please save the date for the Policy Workshop hosted by the UC
Network on Child Health, Poverty and Public Policy along with the
UC Center Sacramento. Information about speakers and registration
Marianne Page, professor of economics at UC Davis, will lead a
team of experts from UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC
Santa Barbara and UCSF to shift from fragmented,
discipline-specific approaches of studying childhood disparities
to a multidisciplinary, comprehensive examination of the issue.
The project goal is to understand how health and nutrition
programs affect the health and development of disadvantaged
children, as well as build relationships with policymakers.
Living in “deep poverty” means living on an income less than half the official poverty threshold, or, for a family of three in 2017, living with annual income of less than $9758. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, 18.5 million individuals in the United States—5.7 percent of the population—lived in deep poverty in 2017. At such low levels of income, it may be particularly important to understand for how long individuals continue to live in deep poverty. My recent study investigates the long-term persistence of deep poverty. While most spells of deep poverty in the U.S.
Parents struggling with food insecurity can experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. These pressures may negatively affect their parenting, which may in turn affect the behavior of their children. In this study, we investigated the parenting aggravation levels of parents who experienced food insecurity in the aftermath of the Great Recession. We also explored the extent to which such aggravation may be responsible for the link between food insecurity and children’s behaviors.
A new rule to restrict legal immigration, published by the Trump
administration this month, is sowing confusion and anxiety even
among immigrants not directly affected by it, as fear spreads
faster than facts, immigration and health policy experts say.
The rule would allow the federal government to more easily deny
permanent residency status, popularly known as green cards, or
entry visas to applicants who use — or are deemed likely to use —
federally funded food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid.
Center for Poverty Research Director Marianne Page and
Faculty Affiliate Ross Thompson were invited to speak on a panel
at the Childhood Obesity Conference in Anaheim, CA
July 15-18. Their session entitled “Poverty: Obesity
Prevention’s Top Priority?” discussed how childhood obesity is
tied to so many other issues—poverty, family supports, and
The goal of this UCOP-funded pilot program on Child Health,
Poverty and Public Policy is to lay the foundation for a UC-wide
network of scholars who are committed to rigorous cross-training
in multiple disciplinary-specific skills and “languages” that are
necessary to produce a comprehensive understanding of the
mechanisms by which health and nutrition programs (e.g.
Although a growing number of studies suggest that providing poor
families with income supplements of as little as $1,000 per
year will improve children’s well-being, many poor children
miss important sources of income support provided through the tax
system because their parents either do not work or do not
file taxes. Accessing assistance through means-tested programs is
Do mothers’ biological responses to stress transfer to her child?
This is a question addressed in a recently published study by
Leah Hibel of UC Davis and Evelyn Mercado of UCLA. Though prior
reports have shown that mothers help their children regulate
distress through calming and soothing, there are few studies that
examine the ways in which a mother facing stress might transmit
stress to her child. This study shows that mothers transmit
stress to their infants and that mothers’ emotions appear to play
a role in this transmission.
Exclusionary immigration policies have led to a sizeable
undocumented population that is largely barred from access to
resources in the United States, however there is little research
that looks at the impact of legal status on immigrants’
Jasmine E. Harris earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her
A.B. from Dartmouth College. Professor Harris’s research
focuses on the role of disability rights in the overall
antidiscrimination agenda. She uses procedural laws and
interdisciplinary research to consider how law can advance social
norms of disability. Her articles have appeared in such
leading legal journals as the Columbia Law Review, New York
University Law Review, Ohio State Law Review, and American
University Law Review. Professor Harris is also a faculty
affiliate of the Aoki Center on Race and Nation Studies.
Noli Brazil received his doctorate in Demography from the
University of California Berkeley in 2013, and is an Assistant
Professor in the Department of Human Ecology. His research and
teaching interests focus on the causes and consequences of
neighborhood inequality. Current research projects include
examining the interactions between neighborhoods and schools,
understanding the determinants of residential mobility and
attainment during young adulthood, and Hispanic US internal
Brendan Price is an Assistant Professor of Economics at UC Davis.
Price completed his PhD in Economics at MIT, where he specialized
in labor economics and public finance. His research explores the
labor market impacts of technology and trade, the consequences of
being laid off, and how public policies can help workers, their
families, and their communities recover from job loss. In
published and ongoing work, he is analyzing how competition from
Chinese imports has affected US workers and firms.
Dr. Falbe’s research focuses on studying programmatic, policy,
and environmental interventions to prevent chronic disease and
reduce health disparities. Dr. Falbe led an evaluation of the
nation’s first soda tax in Berkeley, California. Her research has
also examined primary care nutrition and physical activity
interventions for youth, healthy retail programs, and
multi-sector community interventions to prevent obesity. Dr.
Falbe received a dual doctorate in Nutrition and Epidemiology in
2013 from Harvard University.
Gail Goodman received her degree in Developmental Psychology from
UCLA in 1977. Her areas of research expertise include welfare
recipients, foster care, and the intergenerational transmission
of attachment insecurity.
Marianne Page is a Professor of Economics and Director of the
Center for Poverty Research at UC Davis. She has authored
numerous scholarly articles focusing on low-income
families. A labor economist, she is an expert on
intergenerational mobility and equality of opportunity in the
United States. She has also worked on various issues
related to the U.S. safety net, education, and gender. Her
research has appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Economics,
the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, and
the Journal of Labor Economics.
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Leticia Saucedo received her degree, cum laude, from
Harvard Law School in 1996. Her research centers on employment
and immigration law, immigrants in low-wage workplaces and the
structural dynamics affecting their entry.
Lisa Pruitt’s areas of research include legal and policy
implications of income inequality along the rural-urban continuum
and legal aspects of declining mobility, with an emphasis on
diminishing access to higher education.
Michal Kurlaender’s work focuses on education policy and
evaluation, particularly practices that address existing
racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequality at various stages of
the educational attainment process.
Ross A. Thompson’s research focuses on the applications of
developmental research to public policy concerns, including
school readiness and its development, early childhood
investments, and early mental health.
Paul Hastings received his degree from the University of Toronto.
His research focuses on the impact of stressors on child and
adolescent well-being, and the effects of poverty on
physiological reactivity, regulation and development of mental
and physical health problems.
Cassandra Hart is associate professor of education policy. She
evaluates the effects of school, state and national education
programs, policies, and practices on overall student achievement,
and on the equality of student outcomes. Hart’s recent work
has focused on school choice programs, school accountability
policies, early childhood education policies, and effects on
students of exposure to demographically similar teachers.
She is also interested in the effects of virtual schooling on
student outcomes, both in K-12 and post-secondary settings.
Giovanni Peri received his degree in Economics from UC Berkeley
in 1998. His research focuses on the determinants of
international migrations and their impact on labor markets,
productivity, and investments.
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In the U.S.A., approximately 20% children and adolescents live in
poverty and more than double that number live in families
experiencing chronic economic hardship. Those figures are higher
for many ethnically and racially diverse communities in the
U.S.A., and higher still for many other nations, particularly in
the Global South. Growing up in contexts of poverty and economic
hardship exposes children to pervasive and multi-faceted
stressors that may shape their developing neurobiological systems
and psychological adjustment in complex, enduring and