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2. Young Child Poverty

Poverty has a powerful influence on a child’s well-being. Young children living in poverty are much more likely to experience multiple adverse childhood experiences—including stress, deprivation and exposure to violence—that severely affect all aspects of social emotional, physical, cognitive and language development. Such experiences make it difficult for children to be ready for school and life. These effects are detrimental and have lasting impacts into adulthood. Alternatively, while young children living in more affluent families still can experience early childhood adversity, their families have more resources available to provide stability and support and make other investments in their children. In general, families with incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty ($45,000 for a family of four) struggle to make ends meet, while those with incomes above 400 percent of poverty ($90,000) have substantial opportunities to provide extra developmental opportunities for their children.

What Can the Data Tell Us?

Child poverty levels vary substantially by race in the U.S. (Table 5). Young child poverty rates among African-American and Hispanic children are more than double that of white, non-Hispanic children. And white non-Hispanic children are three times as likely to be in affluent families as African American or Hispanic children. Looking at poverty data in conjunction with race and ethnicity is important because it provides a clear picture of which groups are being affected by poverty and where resources and supports need to be directed to advance equity.

Table 5. Poverty level (measured by percent of the Federal Poverty Level) among children ages 0-5 by race/ethnicity, U.S., 2011-2013

Poverty Levels

Total

White Non-Hispanic

African American

Asian

Hispanic

Less Than 100%

5,961,236
25.2%

2,081,277
16.1%

1,772,166
42.7%

196,998
12.4%

2,183,415
36.1%

100-199%

5,472,216
23.1%

2,542,567
19.6%

1,055,341
25.4%

256,167
16.1%

1,839,401
30.4%

200-299%

3,850,245
16.3%

2,305,981
17.8%

562,795
13.6%

231,166
14.5%

914,040
15.1%

300-399%

2,742,515
11.6%

1,873,234
14.4%

309,959
7.5%

213,835
13.4%

467,740
7.7%

400+%

5,648,910
23.9%

4,162,813
32.1%

449,869
10.8%

696,360
43.7%

649,538
10.7%

Total

23,675,122

12,965,872

4,150,130

1,594,526

6,054,134

Source:  U.S. Census Bureau, Public Use Microdata Sample, 2011-2013. Similar data can be developed for each state.

 

The National Council of La Raza’s Latino Kids Data Explorer is an excellent source for child poverty data as well as other child and family indicators. It is available for all states and can be broken down by race/ethnicity and income (Table 6).

Table 6. Percentage of children 0-8 below 100% and 200% of Poverty by race/ethnicity, U.S. and states, 2008-2010