Asset Building Financial Inclusion Working Paper

Disentangling the Dynamics of Family Poverty and Child Disability: Does Disability Come First?

This paper provides background for the analysis of such policy implications by analyzing the causal relationship between poverty and child disability. Despite a plethora of research on the general association between poverty and child disability, the direction of causation between these two factors remains unclear. We don’t know whether children with disabilities are more likely to be born into families in poverty than children without disabilities. For many families, poverty may result from the birth of the disabled child rather than be a causal factor in the disability. In this paper we explore this proposition by following families backward in time in order to examine their characteristics before and after the birth of their children.


Porterfield, S. L., & Tracey, C. M. (2003). Disentangling the dynamics of family poverty and child disability: Does disability come first? (CSD Working Paper No. 03-1). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.