Amount spent on housing affects kids’ cognitive abilities -- report

by Ryan Smith17 Jun 2014
The cognitive abilities of children in low income families are affected by how much their parents spend on housing, according to a new Johns Hopkins University study.

Spending either too little or too much on housing can have a negative effect on kids’ reading and math ability, Bloomberg reported. Children’s reading and mathematical skills suffer when families spend less than 20% of their income on housing, or more than half.
Families that spend too much on housing have less money to pay for educational tools like books or computers that stimulate kids’ intellectual development, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, those that spend too little run the risk of raising their children in unhealthy environments.

“Rather than finding a bargain in a good neighborhood, they’re living in low-quality housing with spillover effects on their children’s development,” wrote study co-author Sandra Newman, a professor of policy studies at Johns Hopkins.

Meanwhile, families that cut spending on housing from more than half to about 30% of their incomes had an average of $98 more to spend on their children every month.

“Not a lot, but enough to make a difference,” the report stated.

“People are making trade-offs, and those trade-offs have implications for their children,” wrote study co-author C. Scott Holupka.