Nearly half of children in the United States live dangerously close to the poverty line, according to new research from the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Basic Facts about Low-Income Children, the center’s annual series of profiles on child poverty in America, illustrates the severity of economic instability and poverty conditions faced by more than 31 million children throughout the United States. Using the latest data from the American Community Survey, NCCP researchers found that while the total number of children in the U.S. has remained about the same since 2008, more children today are likely to live in families barely able to afford their most basic needs.
[Photo: Dr. Renée Wilson-Simmons]
“These data challenge the prevailing beliefs that many still hold about what poverty looks like and which children in this country are most likely to be at risk,” said Dr. Renée Wilson-Simmons, NCCP director. “The fact is, despite the significant gains we’ve made in expanding nutrition and health insurance programs to reach the children most in need, millions of children are living in families still struggling to make ends meet in our low-growth, low-wage economy.”
According to NCCP researchers, the number of poor children in the U.S. grew by 18 percent from 2008 to 2014 (the latest available data), and the number of children living in low-income households grew by 10 percent. NCCP defines a low-income household as one where incomes fall below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Threshold (e.g., $48,016 for a family of four with two children in 2014). A family is considered poor if its earnings are below 100 percent of the poverty threshold (e.g., $24,008 for a family of four with two children in 2014).
Published annually since 2009, Basic Facts about Low-Income Children profiles demographic and socioeconomic conditions of poor and low-income children in fact sheets for five age groups, from infants and toddlers to adolescents. Fact sheet data are widely cited by policymakers, researchers, advocates, and the media as authoritative. NCCP’s annual fact sheets on child poverty in America are available online at www.nccp.org/publications/fact_sheets.html.