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NOVEMBER 24 , 2022

“Attributions on the causes of general and child poverty in Argentina (Atribuciones sobre las causas de la pobreza general e infantil en Argentina)”. Segretin, M.S., Reyna C., & Lipina, S.J. Interdisciplinaria, 2022, Vol. 39(3), pp. 293-315. ISSN: 1668-7027. Doi: 10.16888/interd.2022.39.3.17

In the last decades, different studies have addressed the perspectives of people regarding the causes of poverty, as they could play a fundamental role in the development of individual and social attitudes, beliefs and expectations towards people living in such a condition, and in the strategies implemented to solve related problems and issues. In addition, many of those studies have investigated the causes of poverty using the theoretical model proposed by Feagin (1972), which suggests three broad explanations: (1) individualistic (i. e., causal attribution is placed on the poor themselves); (2) structural (i. e., poverty is due to external social and economic factors); and (3) fatalistic (i. e., poverty is attributed to factors such as bad luck). Most of those studies have been carried out considering the causes of poverty in general, which means that there is very little research aimed at studying specifically the causes of child poverty. Given the high incidence of poverty in Argentina the knowledge about such perspectives is of interest for multiple basic and applied purposes. In this sense, the present study proposed to evaluate the attributions of the causes of poverty in general and child poverty in particular, by adults from Argentina, through two virtual questionnaires (one asking for the causes of poverty in general, and the other for the causes of child poverty). The sample included responses from 1.659 citizens of Argentina from 17 to 90 years old (M = 45.72, SD = 16.94). The questionnaires included 32 items aimed at evaluating the attribution of causes of general poverty, and 30 items related to child poverty. Participants were asked to indicate the importance of each item as a cause of poverty on a five-point Likert-type scale (1 = does not matter; 5 = extremely important). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were implemented (separately from the general and child questionnaires) and retained items with factor loadings at .40 or above. In addition, for the general questionnaire, a second approach was implemented to analyze if the factorial structure supported by different studies in the literature was confirmed in this sample. For such a purpose, confirmatory factor analyses were implemented. Regarding the questionnaire for the causes of general poverty, the exploratory analysis allowed identifying a three-factor structure (as in the case of other studies) (RMSEA = .071; CFI = .94; TLI = .93), which was not verified in the confirmatory analysis (RMSEA = .103; CFI = .88; TLI = .86). On the other hand, the results of the second approach suggest the confirmation of the two-factor model proposed in the literature (RMSEA = .083; CFI = .96; TLI = .95). This pattern of results suggests sensitivity to the inclusion of new items. In this sense, in future studies it would be important to invest efforts in determining new items from consultations with experts and other social actors. Regarding the questionnaire for the causes of poverty in children, two-factor model was identified and confirmed (RMSEA = .074; CFI = .94; TLI = .93), which is a new piece of evidence in the field, suggesting variability in the attribution of causes of poverty according to the considered age group, and whose potential mechanisms in comparison with the studies on adult poverty should be explored in future research (e. g., individual, contextual and cultural factors). Finally, this study confirms that having valid and reliable instruments to explore the causal attributions of general and child poverty would be important to advance in the understanding of poverty as a complex and multidimensional phenomenon. 

Keywords: causal attributions of poverty, child poverty, confirmatory factor analysis, exploratory factor análisis.

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