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This article presents the case for investing more in young American children who grow up in disadvantaged environments. Figure 1 graphs time series of alternative measures of the percentage of children in disadvantaged families. The percentage of children born into, or living in, nontraditional families has increased greatly in the past thirty years.1,2 Approximately 25% of children are now born into single parent homes. While the percentages of children living in poverty and born into poor families have fallen recently, they are still high, especially among certain subgroups.

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Adverse environments place children at risk for social and economic failure. The accident of birth plays a powerful role in determining adult success.3 Many have commented on this phenomenon, and most analyses have cast the issue of assisting children from disadvantaged families as a question...

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