Researchers studying the impact of giving single moms a basic income payment each month have found signs that the children’s development could improve dramatically, according to a new study.
The finding may appear like a “duh” moment, especially to anyone who’s ever experienced the correlation between personal income and child rearing. Raising kids costs money, and there’s a tight relationship between how much money a parent makes, how much time is available to spend with their children and how those children develop in their early years. If you’re a single parent working for an hourly wage, there’s a good chance that your efforts to keep the bills paid takes away hours of quality time with your child.
But the new research spotlights where that experience intersects with public policy as some cities including Pittsburgh, Jackson, Miss. and Stockton, Calif., experiment with the concept of universal basic income and other forms of direct payments to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The study started by looking at Census data from 2020 that showed that kids under six-years-old being raised by single dads had poverty rates three times lower than the same kids being raised by single moms. According to MarketWatch, nine researchers started a program they called “Baby’s First Years”, which gave $333 per month to single mothers over the course of a year, and studied the impact.
The researchers found that infants whose mothers received $333 per month “had more high-frequency brain activity” — a sign of better language development and brain development — compared with infants whose mothers received $20 per month.
Researchers released the first findings from the study Monday, and plan to release more findings in the future.
“We are somewhat surprised that we saw these impacts this quickly, after just one year of unconditional cash support,” said Kimberly Noble, a senior author of the study, who teaches neuroscience and education at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “In some ways, this underscores how sensitive children are to their environments very early in childhood.”
The study involved a total of 435 moms who lived in New York, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minn., Omaha and New Orleans.