The Effects of Large-Scale Economic Change and Policies on Children’s Developmental Contexts and Developmental Outcomes


  • Work on this article by Yoshikawa was supported in part by National Science Foundation Grant BCS0721383.

concerning this article should be addressed to Christina Weiland or Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 14 Appian Way, Room 704, Cambridge, MA 02139; e-mail: or


Abstract— In the current era of rapid economic change in societies worldwide, it is vital to examine how large-scale societal changes might affect children’s development. This article summarizes existing evidence on 3 types of large-scale economic change and policies that theory and empirical evidence suggest affect children’s development: economic growth and downturns, changes in demand for worker skills, and employment policies and regulations. It also summarizes evidence regarding the community- and family-level mechanisms through which these effects may be conveyed, focusing where possible on empirical studies that can identify causality. It concludes with recommendations for future research.