Economic Stress in Lives: Developmental Perspectives


  • Glen H. Elder Jr.,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Search for more papers by this author
    • 3

      GLEN H. ELDER, JR., is Howard W. Odum Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Research Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. After completing his doctorate at Chapel Hill, he served on the faculties of the University of California at Berkeley and Cornell University. With a Senior Scientist Award from NIMH, he is continuing his longitudinal research on social change in the life course and mental health.

  • Avshalom Caspi

    1. Harvard University
    Search for more papers by this author
    • 4

      AVSHALOM CASPI is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Cornell University. He is currently involved in several longitudinal studies investigating the causes and consequences of continuity in problem behavior across the life course.

Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599.


A major task for research on the social costs of economic stress is to trace how macrosocial changes affect increasingly smaller social units and ultimately those microsocial phenomena that directly influence children in their families. In this paper, we specify linkages between macroeconomic change and children's development by tracing deprivational effects through family adaptations in the household economy and in personal relationships. Our findings from research on children and families of the Great Depression are discussed in relation to an interactional model of the process by which families adapt to stressful times.