Top Predictors of Intergenerational Poverty

Kelsey Martinez, PhD, Researcher
February 19, 2020


Our 2019 longitudinal analysis of intergenerational poverty (IGP) in Utah summarized demographic, economic, and workforce predictors of those experiencing IGP. In other words, we examined factors that increase the likelihood that an individual experiences IGP in Utah. The report used a cohort study, and tracked individuals from 2012 to 2018. Specifically, we tracked employment, wages earned, and educational attainment longitudinally.

Adults experiencing IGP in Utah are characterized as those using twelve or more months of public assistance as adults and twelve months or more as children. A control group of adults who utilized public assistance programs for a shorter period than adults experiencing IGP was created for comparison to the group of adults experiencing IGP. Reference group adults used public assistance for one to eleven months as adults, and for any number of months as children. Logistic regression was employed with these two groups to determine which factors increased the risk of experiencing IGP.

Our study found that, for the 2012 cohort of adults experiencing IGP, the number of months an individual experienced IGP as a child most strongly influenced the likelihood that they would continue to experience IGP as an adult. Furthermore, females, Native Americans, and those who committed a felony were much more likely to experience IGP. Individuals who had low attachment to the workforce, or did not consistently work four quarters each year from 2012 to 2018 were more likely to experience IGP than those maintaining steady employment. Lastly, those with less than a high school level (high school diploma or equivalent certificate) of education were more likely to experience IGP.

Additional case-control studies involving individuals experiencing IGP, their workforce attachment, and their use of other Utah state agencies’ services may also provide further insight into why certain individuals experience IGP in Utah and others do not.

Additional details about our 2019 longitudinal study of IGP can be found in the official published report.