Long-Term Effects of Local-Area New Deal Work Relief in Childhood on Educational, Economic, and Health Outcomes Over the Life Course: Evidence From the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study

Sepideh Modrek, Evan Roberts, John Robert Warren, David Rehkopf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The economic characteristics of one’s childhood neighborhood have been found to deter mine long-term well-being. Policies enacted dur ing child hood may change neighborhood trajectories and thus impact long-term outcomes for children. We use individual-level data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study to examine the enduring consequences of childhood exposure to local-area New Deal emergency employment work-relief activ ity. Our out comes include ado les cent cog ni tion, edu ca tional attain­ment, mid­life income, health behav­iors, late-life cog­ni­tion, and mor­tal­ity. We find that children (ages 0–3) living in neighborhoods with moderate work-relief activity in 1940 had higher adolescent IQ scores, had higher class rank, and were more likely to obtain at least a bach­e­lor’s degree. We find endur­ing ben­e­fits for mid­life income and late-life cognition for males who grew up in areas with a moderate amount of work relief. We find mixed results for males who grew up in the most dis­ad­van­taged areas with the highest levels of work-relief activity. These children had similar educational outcomes as those in the most advantaged districts with the lowest work-relief activity but had higher adult smok­ing rates. Our find­ings pro­vide some of the first evi­dence of the long-term consequences of New Deal policies on children’s long-term life course outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1489-1516
Number of pages28
JournalDemography
Volume59
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This project was generously supported by the Sloan Foundation (G-2018-11079) and the National Institute on Aging (R01AG059791 and R01AG050300). We use data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which has been funded by the National Institute on Aging (R01AG009775 and R01AG033285). Support also came from the Minnesota Population Center, which receives core funding (P2CHD041023) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or manuscript preparation.

Funding Information:
This project was gen erously supported by the Sloan Foundation (G-2018-11079) and the National Institute on Aging (R01AG059791 and R01AG050300). We use data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, which has been funded by the National Institute on Aging (R01AG009775 and R01AG033285). Support also came from the Minnesota Population Center, which receives core funding (P2CHD041023) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. The funders had no role in study design, data collec tion and analysis, decision to publish, or manuscript preparation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors.

Keywords

  • Childhood neighborhood
  • Cognition
  • Health behaviors
  • Mortality
  • Socioeconomic status

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