Social Interventions: Income

Children in low-income families face many factors which put them at risk for later criminality, according to The Progress of Canada's Children 2002:

  • Children who live in persistent poverty are less likely to be included in aspects of society that are critical to their healthy growth and development.
  • They are twice as likely to live with violence or in a "dysfunctional" family.
  • They are more than three times more likely to live with a depressed parent.
  • Only half of the children who lived in persistent poverty participated in recreation at least once a week, compared to three-quarters of children who had never been poor.1


Children who grow up in low-income families are more likely to exhibit behaviours which can immediately, or eventually, get them in trouble with the law:

  • Poor children are 1.4 times more likely to engage in aggressive behaviours than children in middle- or higher-income families.
  • Poor children are more likely to exhibit delinquent behaviours, compared to those in middle- and high-income families: 1.8 and 2.6 times, respectively.2

A 2002 report by the National Council on Welfare on the cost of poverty identified incarceration of low-income offenders as a major cost to society. Low-income people are more likely to be arrested, detained without bail, jailed, and given the harshest sentences.3

Improvements in family income can have a positive effect. A CCSD study showed that a child's risk of poor outcomes dramatically diminished as family income reached $30,000, and the risk diminished even further as family income reached $40,000.4

Child poverty in Canada shows no signs of diminishing. It decreased slightly in the second half of the 1990s, but the latest figures available (2002) show the child poverty rate at 15.6% – or nearly one in six children. That rate is slightly higher than the 15.2% recorded in 1989, when the House of Commons unanimously committed to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000.5

Census data show that certain groups are increasingly living on low incomes: young families, single parents (especially single mothers), recent immigrants, and Aboriginal people continue to be disproportionately represented among low-income groups.6

Other Social Interventions

  Addictions Treatment
  Countering Violence
  Early Childhood Education
  Positive Parenting
  Secondary Education
  Special Needs Programming


1Hanvey, Louise. The Progress of Canada's Children 2002. Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development.

2Ross, David; Scott, Katherine; and Smith, Peter. Canadian Fact Book on Poverty 2000. Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development.

3National Council on Welfare. The Cost of Poverty. Ottawa: Council, 2002.

4Canadian Council on Social Development. "What are the links between child poverty and crime?" in Preventing Crime through Social Development Bulletin, No. 4, 2000. Ottawa: CCSD, 2000.

5Campaign 2000. One Million Too Many: Implementing Solutions to Child Poverty in Canada. Ottawa: Campaign 2000, 2004. For more information see

6 Canadian Council on Social Development. "Census shows growing polarization of income in Canada," and "Labour market data shows critical skills shortage and skills going unused," Ottawa: CCSD, 2003.