The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development:

September 2013 | Research papers


The Urban Institute


External Link


In this discussion, we review and synthesize research evidence on five identified domains of instability that have been well established in the literature: family income, parental employment, family structure, housing, and the out-of-home contexts of school and child care. In our review of the evidence, we also discuss some of the key pathways through which instability may affect development. Specifically, research points to the underlying role of parenting, parental mental health, and the home environment in providing the stability and support young children need for positive development. We conclude with recommendations for policy and practice to alleviate the impact of instability. This examination will serve as a resource to policymakers and practitioners concerned with programs and services for children and families, and build a foundation for future research in this area.


Not available
Children and Youth, Families, Mental Health