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Better together? Multiplier and spillover effects in two-generation initiatives


Two-generation (2Gen) initiatives—social programs that invest in both children and their caregivers—have been lauded for their potential to improve multigenerational well-being and upward mobility. 2Gen advocates argue that these kinds of social investments likely outperform investment in a single generation, because they should create spillover and multiplier effects that more effectively boost well-being and mobility from poverty. We review empirical research on 2Gen initiatives in education and workforce, parenting, housing, and health. While most 2Gen initiatives either have null effects or have not been rigorously evaluated, there is strong evidence of positive spillover benefits to children when parents access programs that significantly improve family economic resources. We also find evidence of positive effects on both generations when interventions involve intensive home visiting. We conclude with a critique of current 2Gen initiatives, arguing that the focus on family skill building is insufficient to disrupt multigenerational poverty. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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