The promise of prevention science for addressing intergenerational poverty

Mark J. Van Ryzin, Diana Fishbein, Anthony Biglan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This article reviews research suggesting that the prevention of intergenerational poverty will be enhanced if we add evidence-based family and school prevention programs to address the adverse social environments that often accompany poverty. Government policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit can reduce family poverty, but simply improving the economic stability of the family will not necessarily prevent the development of child and adolescent problems such as academic failure, antisocial behavior, drug abuse, and depression, all of which can undermine future economic wellbeing. The authors briefly review the evidence linking family poverty to adverse social environments, which can have deleterious effects on children's behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and neurophysiological development. They then document the value of evidence-based family-and school-based prevention programs in effectively addressing these behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and neurophysiological factors that can put children at risk for continued poverty in adulthood. They also describe 3 family-based prevention programs that have been found to have a direct effect on families' future economic wellbeing. The evidence indicates that widely disseminating effective and efficient family-and school-based prevention programs can help to address both poverty itself and the effects of adverse social environments, making future poverty less likely. The authors conclude with specific recommendations for federal and state policymakers, researchers, and practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-143
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology, Public Policy, and Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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