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Early Childhood Income Instability and Mental Health in Adolescence: Parenting Stress and Child Maltreatment as Mediators.

Child Maltreatment 2024 March 5
Ample research has examined how point-in-time or static measures of economic deprivation are associated with children's mental health outcomes. Less is known about the relationship between early childhood unstable income and mental health outcomes. Using the Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this study examined (1) the latent patterns of early childhood economic well-being, predicted by income level and instability (i.e., direction and frequency of income change); (2) the association of income deprivation patterns with subsequent anxiety and depression symptoms, paying particular attention to the mediating roles of parenting stress and child maltreatment risk. The latent class analysis results suggested four distinct groups representing different combinations of income level and instability. Structural equation modeling results indicated indirect links between income deprivation patterns and mental health outcomes, through parenting stress and physical and psychological abuse. Findings indicated the importance of policies and programs promoting economic stability over the long run.

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