How is the Great Recession Affecting Children?

Beginning in 2007, the United States, along with most other countries around the world, experienced what has since become the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.   In addition to a collapse of the housing market, an epidemic of foreclosures, and a dramatic increase in the unemployment rate.   News stories about the various causes of the Great Recession, including bank collapses, economic mismanagement, and government bailouts has shaken public confidence in the economy and has left countless people fearing for their own financial future. 

One of the most well-known measures of consumer confidence is the national Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI) published monthly by the University of Michigan.  Based on a monthly telephone survey asking people their opinions about a variety of economic subjects, including their own financial well-being, the CSI is considered to be a leading indicator of the general health of the economy and a way of predicting economic recovery.   At the height of the Great Recession in 2009, half of Americans surveyed reported that their financial situation was worse than the year before.   While we have seen a strong recovery since then, confidence is still shaky amid fears of another collapse.

But how has these fears brought on by the Great Recession affected children?   As adults lost their jobs and their homes, the emotional impact this has had on their children is just beginning to be understood.   While there have been numerous research studies looking at the psychological impact of job loss on families, it is far more difficult to measure what happens to children who are affected.    More recent research studies look at the impact of widespread job losses (due to plant closings or business failures in some communities) and later academic achievement in children but fail to examine children directly to determine how they are affected by economic changes. 

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.


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