Understanding Families’ Experiences of Poverty: Results of a Qualitative Study Exploring the Perspectives of Children and their Parents
Rashmita Mistry, Professor of Education, UCLA
Childhood poverty in the United States remains a persistent and pervasive concern. Considerable research evidence links childhood experiences of poverty to harmful effects on developmental outcomes. Yet, less is known about how those experiencing poverty perceive, interpret, and understand their economic circumstances. To address this gap, this qualitative study sought to understand family members’ perspectives of their economic circumstances. In-person, semi-structured interviews were conducted (pre-COVID-19) with racially and ethnically diverse parents (N=31) and children and adolescents (N= 47) recruited from one of three communities located in urban and rural areas in the United States. Key findings, including parents’ worry and resourcefulness in meeting their family’s needs, and children and adolescents’ awareness of their family’s economic status and financial struggles and broader conceptions of economic inequalities, will be reviewed.
Rashmita S. Mistry, PhD, is Professor and Vice Chair of Undergraduate Programs in Education & Social Transformation in the Department of Education at the University of California, Los Angeles. She received her doctorate in Human Development and Family Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and completed postdoctoral training at the Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. A developmental psychologist, she examines children’s and adolescents’ social identity (i.e., social class, race/ethnicity) development and their conceptions and reasoning about inequalities, and socialization processes. Her scholarship has been recognized by the Amercian Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the Society for Research on Adolescence. She was a member of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2019 Presidential Deep Poverty Initiative Working Group and is a Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science (APS). She recently co-Chaired the Society for Research in Child Development’s 2023 Biennial Meeting and is a Special Associate Editor for its leading journal, Child Development.