Social Networks and Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:10
Oral Presentation
Marion FISCHER-NEUMANN, University of Hamburg, Germany
Petra BÖHNKE, University of Hamburg, Germany
Research finds that economic deprivation continues throughout family generations and children raised in poor family households are at higher risk of adulthood poverty. As this process does not have a traceable genetic background, it is assumed that poverty risks are "inherited socially".

While there has been research on family-related processes that may explain the intergenerational transmission of poverty (e.g. parenting behaviour, parental warmth or involvement), there is still a gap of research that systematically applies a network perspective and taking intra- as well as extra-familial social relationships of the child and the social space into account.

The main theoretical framework in this respect has been provided by Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological model of human development. The ecological model takes a systems perspective, and provides a framework for understanding how factors that influence parents and children are nested within a hierarchy of four main levels; socio-cultural (macro system); community (exo system); family /peers /school (micro system) and individual (ontogenic). These levels also describe a path of influence reaching from social and community factors to the more proximal, family and individual factors. Thus, to understand the factors of poverty transmission, all levels need to be taken into account.

Our research is applying this (inter-)level perspective and seeks to understand the structure and resources involved in different social ties/systems that surround the child during socialisation and the context of family income poverty and how these social ties/systems either enhance or mitigate the risk of later adulthood income poverty.

In order to analyse the effects of social networks on intergenerational transmission of poverty, we use longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (GSOEP) as well as longitudinal regression methods. GSOEP is a large-scale annual household panel survey which has been conducted in Germany since 1984, providing life-course information on respondents and their parents.