There's been a lot of talk about how the recession will impact
our children for years to come. The ways we're shortchanging the
next generation are many: parents deferring contributions to
college funds, the government's continued failure to shore up
Medicare and Social Security, and the massive national debt our
kids will be paying for well into their canasta years.
Those are terrible, and I'm not looking forward to the day they
come crashing down on our heads. But what about the impact the
recession is having right now?
Slashed school budgets, scaled-back community programming, and
fewer disposable dollars for discretionary items like fresh produce
and new eyeglasses are immediate and tangible consequences of the
downturn -- and they're not the only ones. If the recession will be
causing headaches decades from now, it's giving our kids a serious
case of whiplash today.
It kind of reminds me of that new Pepcid Complete commercial,
where the guy goes to order a fast food combo and the cashier asks
him: "Would you like that to hurt now or hurt later?"
Why choose, when we can have both? That's what we've got,
according to the Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI), which
released its 2010 report Tuesday. The index, headed by a group of
Duke University analysts, has tracked 28 quality-of-life markers
dating back to 1975, and its most recent report shows substantial
declines in 2009, many of which are expected to last into 2012. The
The worst has yet to come. Our research shows that conditions for
children deteriorated through 2009 and are projected to bottom out
in 2010. Virtually all the progress made in the family economic
well-being domain since 1975 will be wiped out.
Among the lowlights :
And then there's every pediatrician's favorite doomsday
statistic: For the first time in recorded human history, the
current crop of under-15-year-olds have a lower life expectancy
than their parents. Think that's not impacted by the recession? I
bought a box of Kashi cereal for $4.29 at Jewel last week. Six feet
away, boxes of Frosted Flakes were two for $4.00.
The long-terms effects of the recession are problematic, but you
don't have to read 30-year projection reports to see the impact of
The Great Recession. It's happening right now. It can hurt now
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