This research investigates the effects of poverty in early adulthood on future earnings. While social scientists are beginning to amass a considerable literature on the effects of poverty on outcomes for children, few have investigated the damage that impoverishment may do in early adulthood when individuals are in the midst of completing education and planning careers. The findings in this study indicate that poverty does dampen earnings' potential. However, individual characteristics (e.g., aspirations, esteem and ability) and structural location (e.g., educational attainment, occupational status and job tenure) may assuage the otherwise negative effects of poverty. Other findings reveal that the process shaping earnings is very similar for white males compared to racial minorities and women. One exception is the impact of weekly hours worked on earnings. White males receive a benefit to earnings from weekly hours worked above and beyond that of White women, African American men, African American women and Mexican American women. Additionally, white men's earnings remain higher than African Americans, Mexican Americans and white women because of higher occupational attainment and longer job tenure.

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