This paper presents a conceptual model for better understanding how poverty jeopardizes a host of childhood and adulthood abilities. An explicit link is made between this conceptual model and various policy initiatives which attempt to curb poverty or its detrimental effects. To better flesh out the model-and illustrate the myriad ways poverty exerts its effects on children's lives-this paper reviews related social science research. This review reveals that low family income compromises children's physical growth, cognitive development and socio-emotional functioning. It decreases the achievement of children when they are in school and puts them at heightened risk of dropping out of school early. Studies also reveal that low childhood income impairs productivity later in life. While productivity is partly compromised through limited educational attainment, there are other important causal pathways not adequately explored in existing social science research.