Abstract: Exploring Patterns of Multidimensional Child Deprivation in the United States (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Exploring Patterns of Multidimensional Child Deprivation in the United States

Thursday, January 21, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Jihyun Oh, MSW, PhD student, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Leyla Karimli, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Background: An emerging body of scholarship on child poverty suggests that a multidimensional perspective on child deprivation is key to overcome the limitations of the household income-based measure of child poverty. Multidimensional child deprivation is defined as lack of access to a variety of goods and services that are essential for children’s basic material security and developmental progress. This multidimensional concept enables researchers to assess the needs and experiences of children who are poor and/or deprived in various dimensions of quality of life. However, a multidimensional approach reflective of both monetary and non-monetary dimensions has been less examined in the U.S. Thus, this study aims to examine multidimensional child deprivation using nationally representative data and empirically explore patterns of deprivation in the U.S.

Methods: We use fifth wave of data (the total 4,898 children) from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) interviewed in 2007-2010. The analytic sample consisted of 3,465 children at age 9. Multidimensional child’s deprivation is constructed using the multiple overlapping deprivation analyses (MODA) tool developed by UNICEF. The tool offers a more comprehensive picture of child poverty by capturing multiple dimensions of child poverty and deprivation (such as, for example, food security, access to clean water and sanitation, health care, education, adequate housing, access to information, child labor, and exposure to violence) experienced simultaneously.

Results: Multidimensional child deprivation was conceptualized using fifteen indicators: 1) receipt of free food/meals, 2) hunger due to not affording more food, 3) lack of ability to pay rent/mortgage, 4) eviction, 5) lack of ability to pay utilities, 6) utility service disconnection, 7) borrowing money from friends/families, 8) doubling up due to housing cost, 9) staying at shelter, 10) not seeing a doctor due to cost, 11) telephone service disconnection, 12) receipt of TANF, 13) feeling unsafe at school, 14) no participation in after-school activities, and 15) Unsafe neighborhood. Multiple Correspondence Analysis was conducted to explore underlying structure of child deprivation across multiple categorical indicators and by three income groups (poor(<$25,000)/near-poor($25,000~$40,000)/non-poor(>$40,000)) based on 50% of the annual median household income (as of 2009) in the United States. Results suggested that there were several clear groupings of deprivation: Housing-related, food-related, utility-related, and environment-related deprivation. Also, results indicated a significant association between those patterns and income groups.

Conclusions/Implications: A key contribution of this study is to provide empirical evidence for identifying and assessing core dimensions of child deprivation in the U.S. The findings indicate that both monetary and non-monetary dimensions of deprivation are needed to capture a true reality of child poverty. This study also suggests that social workers and policymakers need to consider the multidimensional aspects to identify a holistic picture of child poverty in the U.S.