Skip to main content


McLeod, Jane D. & Shanahan, Michael J. (1996). Trajectories of Poverty and Children's Mental Health. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 37(3), 207-220.


Using data from three waves of the Children of the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth data set (1986, 1988, 1990), we examine the dynamic relationship between children's family histories of poverty and their developmental trajectories of mental health. Children who were poor in 1986 or who had prior histories of poverty had higher levels of depression and antisocial behavior in that year. Furthermore, subsequent poverty histories were also related to children's mental health trajectories. The number of years that children were poor between 1986 and 1990 correlates significantly with changes in children's antisocial behavior during those years. Finally, rates of increase in antisocial behavior were substantially higher for children with histories of persistent poverty during those years than for transiently poor or nonpoor children. These results demonstrate the accelerating behavioral disadvantages faced by persistently poor children.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Health and Social Behavior


McLeod, Jane D.
Shanahan, Michael J.