Economic hardship trajectories of college‐educated families living in or near poverty: Assessing predictors and outcomes. By: Tighe, Lauren A. and Davis‐Kean, Pamela E. 2024. Family Relations. Vol. 73 Issue 2, p1201-1218.

Objective: This study examined the longitudinal trajectories of economic hardship for low‐income families with a college education. Background: The relation between parental education and family income to parenting behaviors and children’s achievement is well documented. Less is known on how high education and low income interact within families, particularly over time. Method: The sample consisted of 537 families who were low‐income and college‐educated when their child was in kindergarten. We used latent growth curve analyses to classify families into different trajectory classes based on economic hardship over several years. We then examined predictors and outcomes of each class. Results: Within this sample of low‐income, college‐educated families, there were two economic hardship trajectories: Transient (i.e., short‐term) and Chronic (i.e., long term). Parents in the transient class were more likely to work an occupation requiring a postsecondary degree and had higher educational expectations than the chronic class. We conducted additional analyses to test for generalizability and comparison to other family types. Conclusion: Parental education attainment may provide a protective buffer for parents and children when facing short‐or long‐term economic hardship. Implications: This study highlights the sustained importance of educational attainment and the need for policy and program solutions to address families’ diverse needs.