The price of poverty: The association between childhood poverty and adult income and education in Sweden, 1947–2015

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Abstract

Childhood poverty increases the likelihood of being poor as an adult. We know relatively little about this persistence of poverty in the past and whether it changed as modern welfare societies developed. This study both analyses determinants of childhood poverty and assesses the association between childhood poverty and economic outcomes in adulthood for men and women who grew up in southern Sweden, and who were followed to adulthood regardless of where in Sweden they resided. Poverty is measured in relative terms. Being raised by a single mother, foreign origin, and being raised in a context where the household head was not employed were important risk factors for childhood poverty. Growing up in relative poverty was in turn associated with low income and education in adulthood. Both the persistence and intensity of childhood poverty mattered, and so did the age during which poverty was experienced. Patterns were similar for men and women, and there was no consistent change over time as the Swedish welfare state expanded.

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Brea-Martinez, G., Dribe, M., & Stanfors, M. (2023). The price of poverty: The association between childhood poverty and adult income and education in Sweden, 1947–2015. Economic History Review, 76(4), 1281–1304. https://doi.org/10.1111/ehr.13244

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