New Brain Science Supports the Need for the EITC

By Kate Skochdopole

A disturbing new report found that growing up in poverty can affect a child’s brain structure with negative consequences on academic performance, standardized test scores and long-term employment prospects. The study follows other recent research sounding the alarm about the effects of poverty on brain development, including  a study published last spring in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

For this latest report, released by the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers scanned the brains of 389 children and young adults between the ages of four and 22 and examined their neurological development over a six-year period. The researchers found that children growing up below the federal poverty line had 8 to 10 percent less grey matter volume than the developmental norm, indicating regions that control academic functioning were not growing normally.

To minimize these effects, scientists encouraged policymakers to support policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the EITC lifted 3.2 million children out of poverty and made another 7.8 million less poor in 2014 alone. The credit has also been linked to healthier infant birth weights, a measure that can greatly influence a child’s health throughout his or her life.

Even science now supports the view that the EITC and other income-boosting policies have a vital role to play in the lives of low-income children. To learn more about this and similar anti-poverty efforts, visit our website.