Multiple moves found harmful to poor young children

Poor children who move three or more times before they turn 5 have more behavior problems than their peers, according to a new study by researchers at Cornell University and the National Employment Law Project. The study is published in the journal Child Development.

Moving is a fairly common experience for American families; in 2002, 6.5 percent of all had been living in their current home for less than six months. Among low-income children, that number rose to 10 percent. In addition, in 2002, 13 percent of families above poverty moved once, but 24 percent of families below poverty moved. Research has shown that frequent moves are related to a range of behavioral, emotional, and school problems for .

Using national data on 2,810 children from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal, representative study of children born in 20 large U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000, researchers sought to determine how frequent moves relate to children's readiness for school. Parents were interviewed shortly after the birth of their children, then again by phone when the children were 1, 3, and 5; in-home assessments were done when the children were 3 and 5. The study also looked at the children's language and literacy outcomes, as well as reported by mothers.

The study found that 23 percent of the children had never moved, 48 percent had moved once or twice, and 29 percent had moved three or more times. Among children who moved three or more times before age 5, nearly half (44 percent) were poor; poverty was defined based on the official federal threshold. Moving three or more times was not related to the children's language and literacy outcomes.

But children who moved three or more times had more , anxiousness or depression, and or at age 5 than those who had never moved or those who had moved once or twice. These increases in behavior problems occurred only among poor children, the study found, suggesting that frequent moves early in life are most disruptive for the most disadvantaged children.

"The United States is still recovering from the great recession, which has taken a major toll on the housing market," notes Kathleen Ziol-Guest, postdoctoral associate at Cornell University, who led the study. "As housing markets have collapsed across communities, highly mobile low-income families have moved in search of work and less expensive housing.

"The findings in this study suggest that the housing crisis and its accompanying increase in mobility likely will have negative effects on young children, especially poor children."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study links child hunger and poor health to unstable housing

Dec 02, 2008

A new study shows that children whose families move frequently or live in overcrowded conditions are more likely to suffer from hunger and poor health than those in stable housing. The study was carried out by the Children's ...

Recommended for you

Initiative to emphasize concussions are treatable

8 minutes ago

At a time when the national concussion conversation instills fear and uncertainty among parents and athletes at all levels, the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program is working to change the current discussion where two ...

England's NHS appeals for more government funds

27 minutes ago

Leaders of England's state-funded National Health Service (NHS) warned on Thursday that billions of pounds in extra funds were needed to maintain patient care, laying down the gauntlet to politicians ahead of May's general ...

Lose the weight, not the potatoes

1 hour ago

A new study demonstrates that people can eat potatoes and still lose weight." Potatoes, Glycemic Index, and Weight Loss in Free-Living Individuals: Practical Implications" is now available through free access from the Journal of ...

Team-based approach can improve hypertension control

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—A team-based approach using evidence-based principles can be incorporated into practice workflow to improve hypertension control, according to a practice story published by the American Medical ...

User comments