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Keywords:

  • income instability;
  • stress;
  • household chaos

Abstract

Income instability is an important and understudied dimension of the established empirical relation between family income and children's healthy development. Frequent fluctuations in income may influence daily processes and routines of family life, but the nature of such effects also may vary by specific patterns of income instability, parents' responses, and children's characteristics. In this article, we review existing theory and research on income, family functioning, and child development to better understand the potential implications of income instability for children's development. We also integrate theoretical insights from developmental psychology, economics, sociology, and social neuroscience to propose a set of testable hypotheses for social science investigations on this topic.