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Family material hardship and Chinese adolescents’ problem behaviors

 poverty is a significant early risk antecedent for childhood conduct problems. Thus, policies that prioritize support for children at the very early stages before they begin formal schooling may prevent their behavior from getting worse and subsequently falling further behind their peers in educational achievement. While the initial cost of early intervention might be an immediate concern, this needs to be balanced against the fact that future costs associated with supporting children whose problems deteriorate by adulthood is equally substantial . Early interventions at the preschool stage also have a greater efficacy for reducing conduct problems than those for older children because childhood conduct problems and their associated parenting practices are more malleable during the early years Additionally, as found in the current and previous studie conduct problems decrease as children grow older. Thus, early intervention should help quicken the pace of change for those at risk.

To conclude, the present study extended previous work on the exact mechanisms by which poverty leads to childhood conduct problems by demonstrating the role of cognitive ability as a key mediator between poverty and conduct problems. It is also only one of two studies using prospective longitudinal data matching temporal order of hypothesized variables, and the only one to examine trajectory of conduct problems across time. Interventions based on the integrated family stress and investment model may help improve conduct behavior for children from disadvantaged households, and by extension their future prospects.