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Poverty and conduct problems: theories on the mechanisms of effect

Two theoretical perspectives that have been extensively deployed to explain this mechanism are the family stress model and the investment model. Both theories posit an indirect effect of poverty on childhood conduct problems defined family stress as “a disturbance in the study state of the family system.” Such a disturbance may be due to external factors such as, unemployment or internal factors such as, divorce. Others (e.g., have conceptualized family stress as the response of a family to distressing life events and tensions generated by these events. According to the family stress model, economic deprivation induces psychological distresses such as, depression, anxiety, and parental stress, due to the strain of having fewer resources available for day-to-day living. Such stressors are associated with frustration and aggressive interactions which in turn lead parents to adopt punitive or unresponsive parenting styles with consequences for childhood conduct trajectories Support for this model comes from studies demonstrating a link between poverty, parental psychological distress, punitive discipline, and conduct problems

Family investment on the other hand is defined as the amount of money parents put into purchasing quality education, nutrition, health, good neighborhood, and other inputs that improves a child’s future well-being . This investment is determined by a family’s income. The investment model proposes that poverty restricts parents’ ability to provide enriching educational experiences and services, as well as sufficiently nutritious diets. This in turn leads to lower cognitive abilities with potential consequences for other developmental domains Economic deprivation has been found to longitudinally predict low educational investment and consequently cognitive abilities. Additionally, changes in parental economic circumstances predict investment in nutritious diets and childhood malnutrition has been linked to low cognitive ability and conduct problems in adolescence