Poverty and the Daily Lives of Infants
It has been amply demonstrated that poor children suffer disadvantages as compared to their more advantaged peers. This paper examines important aspects of infants' daily experiences in a southeastern city in the United States in order to illustrate differences between poor and non-poor infants. “Poor” infants were compared to their “non-poor” counterparts on the quality of parenting they received; quality of their home environments; relative health and safety; stability, structure, and predictability of their daily lives; and exposure to diverse experiences in the community. Findings reveal that poor infants are at a consistent disadvantage across all domains when compared to their more affluent counterparts. These daily deficiencies might be conceptualized as the mechanisms through which poverty exerts its negative effects. This paper shifts the focus from macro-level variables such as larger economic and social factors to the cumulative effect of deficiencies at the micro-level. Intervening to ameliorate the micro-level deficits that are most modifiable may lessen the cumulative risk and provide some small avenues toward resilience for the most disadvantaged and at-risk infants.
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