Who are America's Poor Children? The Official Story

Wight, Vanessa; Chau, Michelle M.; Aratani, Yumiko

Over 15 million American children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level, which is $22,050 a year for a family of four. The number of children living in poverty increased by 33 percent between 2000 and 2009. There are 3.8 million more children living in poverty today than in 2000. Not only are these numbers troubling, the official poverty measure tells only part of the story. Research consistently shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice the federal poverty level to make ends meet. Children living in families with incomes below this level — for 2010, $44,100 for a family of four — are referred to as low income. Forty-two percent of the nation‘s children — more than 31 million in 2009 — live in low-income families. Nonetheless, eligibility for many public benefits is based on the official poverty measure. This fact sheet describes some of the characteristics of American children who are considered poor by the official standard.

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Academic Units
National Center for Children in Poverty
National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University
Published Here
July 19, 2011