TitleTrajectories of poverty and economic hardship among American families supporting a child with a neurodisability
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsRothwell, D, Gariépy, G, Elgar, FJ, Lach, LM
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Pagination1273 - 1284
Date Published10/2019


Caring for a child with a neurodisability (ND) impacts the financial decisions, relationships and well-being of family members, but evidence on the economic trajectories of families throughout the life course is missing.


Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we tracked the families of 3317 children starting 5 years before childbirth until the child reached 20 years of age. We used regression and latent growth curve modelling to estimate trajectories of poverty and economic hardship over time.


Families with a child with an ND had higher rates of poverty and economic hardship prior to childbirth and persistently over time. Analysis uncovered five latent trajectories for each indicator. After controlling for family and caregiver characteristics that preceded the birth of the child, raising a child with an ND was not associated with a unique trajectory of poverty. Families raising a child with an ND were however more likely to experience persistent economic hardship.


The study establishes descriptive evidence for how having a child with an ND relates to changes in family economic conditions. The social and economic conditions that precede the child's birth seem to be driving the economic inequalities observed later throughout the life course.

Short TitleJournal of Intellectual Disability Research