The UC Network on Child Health, Poverty, and Public Policy will develop a trans-disciplinary network across the UC that produces a more comprehensive understanding of the varied pathways by which early life health disparities influence children’s contemporaneous and long term well being, with an eye towards informing cutting edge policy interventions. Despite rhetoric around the “American Dream,” numerous metrics suggest that there is less upward mobility in the United States than in most developed countries in the world. For example, a child born to parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution has a more than 40% chance of remaining there as an adult, and a 65% chance of ending up in the bottom two fifths. In contrast, in Canada and most western European countries, the odds of the same child ending up in the bottom two fifths is closer to 50% (Winship 2011). Studies in economics, psychology, and the biological sciences increasingly suggest that early life health and health environments may play a critical role in reducing children’s chances of escaping poverty and reducing disparities. The UC system includes many noteworthy scholars who are independently contributing to this knowledge base, but narrow, disciplinary specific approaches will not yield the most impactful results. Small steps taken in tandem with multiple disciplines, using multiple approaches, will add up to larger gains in knowledge that can ripple through to create bigger societal influences. We can further speed up these ripple effects by targeting graduate student training.
This network is being developed via a UC Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives award and includes collaborators from UC Davis, Berkeley, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara.