Childhood Poverty, Chronic Stress, Self-Regulation, and Coping

Gary W. Evans, Pilyoung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

538 Scopus citations


Poverty is a powerful factor that can alter lifetime developmental trajectories in cognitive, socioemotional, and physical health outcomes. Most explanatory work on the underlying psychological processes of how poverty affects development has focused on parental investment and parenting practices, principally responsiveness. Our primary objective in this article was to describe a third, complementary pathway-chronic stress and coping-that may also prove helpful in understanding the developmental impacts of early childhood poverty throughout life. Disadvantaged children are more likely than their wealthier peers to confront a wide array of physical stressors (e.g., substandard housing, chaotic environments) and psychosocial stressors (e.g., family turmoil, separation from adult caregivers). As exposure to stressors accumulates, physiological response systems that are designed to handle relatively infrequent, acute environmental demands are overwhelmed. Chronic cumulative stressors also disrupt the self-regulatory processes that help children cope with external demands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Coping
  • Poverty
  • Self-regulation
  • Stress


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