The great recession and the risk for child maltreatment

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, William Schneider, Jane Waldfogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study draws on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N= 2,032), a birth cohort study of families with children from 20 U.S. cities. Interviews occurred between August 2007, and February 2010, when the children were approximately 9 years old. Macro-economic indicators of the Great Recession such as the Consumer Sentiment Index and unemployment and home foreclosure rates were matched to the data to estimate the links between different measures of the Great Recession and high frequency maternal spanking. We find that the large decline in consumer confidence during the Great Recession, as measured by the Consumer Sentiment Index, was associated with worse parenting behavior. In particular, lower levels of consumer confidence were associated with increased levels of high frequency spanking, a parenting behavior that is associated with greater likelihood of being contacted by child protective services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-729
Number of pages9
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse
  • Child maltreatment
  • Parenting
  • Recession
  • Spanking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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