Conference on Early Life Hosts Cross-disciplinary Discussions on Poverty Research
June 3, 2013

DAVIS, Calif. — The conference “Poverty and the Long-term Effects of Early Life Experiences,” hosted by the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, gathered over a hundred attendees to hear and discuss new research across the social science disciplines on the long-term impacts of poverty in early life. 

The conference was held May 31 and June 1 at UC Davis.

“This multidisciplinary work gives us the opportunity to talk with scholars in economics, sociology and other fields to integrate perspectives about the long-term impacts of poverty,” said conference co-organizer Ross Thompson, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at UC Davis.

The nine presenters and three discussants came from universities that included Brown University, Harvard, New York University, Northwestern University, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Denver, University of Wisconsin-Madison and UC Davis. They represented fields of research that included Economics, Education, Human Development, Primatology, Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Policy, Social Policy and Social Work.

“Different disciplines are currently attempting to understand the relationship between economic resources and child development from completely different angles and in nearly total isolation,” said Marianne Page, Deputy Director of the Center and conference co-organizer. “The lack of interdisciplinary interaction and perspective has created disciplinary voids that are likely to produce incomplete understanding and inefficient policy solutions.”

Researchers can measure the impacts of early life experience by studying the prevalence of mental health problems or the distribution of birth weights within populations. Researchers also study the relationships between early-life poverty and measures like school test scores, long-term educational attainment or income.

“We know there are strong connections between disadvantage and problems in the life course, but we don’t quite understand the causal relations,” said Hilary Hoynes, Professor of Economics at UC Davis.

Hoynes was one of three discussants at the two-day conference, with Jay Belsky from UC Davis and Ariel Kalil from the University of Chicago.

In addition to the presentations, the conferences hosted poster sessions to showcase new poverty research by graduate students at UC Davis.

UC Davis Division of Social Sciences Dean George R. Mangun attended the conference and gave opening remarks. “The Center for Poverty Research is very important to us at UC Davis. We are very proud of it,” he said.

Here is a complete list of presenters:

  • Anna Aizer, Associate Professor of Economics & Public Policy at Brown University, presented “The Long Term Impact of Welfare: Evidence from the Mother’s Pension Program, 1913-1930.”
  • Clancy Blair, Professor of Applied Psychology and New York University, presented “Stress, Poverty, and Self-Regulation: Evidence for the Experiential Canalization of Development.”
  • Elysia Davis, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of Denver, presented “Prenatal Programming of Child Health & Development.”
  • Marilyn Essex, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, presented “Early Life Stress Sets the Stage: Socioemotional & Neurobiological Pathways to Health Problems from Childhood through Adolescence”
  • Jonathan Guryan, Associate Professor of Human Development & Social Policy at Northwestern University, presented “The Effect of Poor Neonatal Health on Cognitive Development: Evidence from a Large New Population of Twins.”
  • Rucker Johnson, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley presented “School Quality & the Long-Run Effects of Head Start.”
  • Erin Kinnally, Assistant Project Scientist at the UC Davis California National Primate Center, presented “Early Life Stress and Epigenetic Development.”
  • Hiro Yoshikawa, Professor of Education at Harvard University, presented “A New Generation of Two-Generation Programs for Children in Poverty.”
  • Katherine Magnuson, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, presented “Do the Effects of Early Childhood Education Programs Differ by Gender: A Meta-Analysis.”

About the Center for Poverty Research

The Center for Poverty Research at the University of California, Davis is one of three federally designated centers whose mission is to facilitate and disseminate non-partisan academic research on poverty in the U.S. and to train the next generation of poverty scholars. Our research agenda focuses on labor markets and poverty, children and intergenerational transmission of poverty, the non-traditional safety net, and immigration.

The Center was founded in September, 2011 with core funding from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information, email us at or visit the Center online at: