Transferring income to families with children has long been a basic Canadian social policy. Though motivated by a range of goals, a central expectation has been that higher family income will lead to better child outcomes, especially in low-income families. This paper presents a synthesis of Canadian research estimating the effect of household income on measures of child development and well-being. While child outcomes and socioeconomic status (SES) are highly correlated, the effect of income on child outcomes, controlling for other SES factors, is found to be statistically significant but of much smaller magnitude than correlation alone indicates. The paper also discusses key theoretical and methodological issues in this area of research, identifies areas for future research, and draws implications for public policy design.

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Keywords Child benefits, Child development, Child policy, Child poverty, Early childhood development, Low-income, National Longitudinal Survey of Chidren and Youth (NLSCY)
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Journal Canadian Public Policy
McEwen, A. (Annie), & Stewart, J. (2014). The relationship between income and children's outcomes: A synthesis of Canadian evidence. Canadian Public Policy, 40(1), 99–109. doi:10.3138/cpp.40.1-SYN