In an essay on inequality in 2015, The Atlantic talked about the effects of poverty on children.
“Children from families with less income have relatively less extensive and privileged social networks and, compared to their rich peers, are more likely to experience the type of “toxic” stress that can hamper brain development and long term academic, health, and economic outcomes. In short, inequality entrenches immobility not just by enabling increasingly unequal transfers of wealth from one generation to the next, but also through a number of more subtle pathways that affect opportunity on a daily basis. As more of the benefits of growth flow to a narrower slice of households at the top of the wealth scale, it becomes increasingly more challenging for the majority on the wrong side of the inequality divide to make the investments in themselves, their children, and their neighborhoods that can foster their mobility. Once political power is added to the mix — the established fact that the beneficiaries of high inequality are disproportionately influencing public policy on their behalf — the opportunities for the middle class and poor to build better lives become even more limited.”
Kimberly Noble, professor of neurology and education at Columbia, found in a study that poverty physically affects the brains of low income children: “Family income is significantly correlated with children’s brain size — specifically, the surface area of the cerebral cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain that does most of the cognitive heavy lifting. Further, we found that increases in income were associated with the greatest increases in brain surface area among the poorest children,” Noble said in 2015 in the Washington Post. A 2013 study found that more Americans are living in high-poverty areas — where annual income is below $23,000 for a family of four — than at any other point in our nation’s history.