1 in 5 Children Live in Poverty in U.S.

June 3, 2014 - 1:09 PM

1 in 5 Children Live in Poverty in U.S.

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - One in five children under age 18, or 21.3%, are living in poverty in the United States, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2012, there were 15,437,000 children under 18 years old, or 21.3%, who were classified in the “below poverty” threshold, according to the Census.

“The incidence of poverty rates varies widely across the population according to age, education, labor force attachment, family living arrangements, and area of residence, among other factors. Under the official poverty definition, an average family of four was considered poor in 2012 if its pre-tax cash income for the year was below $23,492,” according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report entitled, Poverty in the United States: 2012.

1 in 5 Children Live in Poverty in U.S.

“The Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds form the basis for statistical estimates of poverty in the United States,” reads the report.  “The thresholds reflect crude estimates of the amount of money individuals or families, of various size and composition, need per year to purchase a basket of goods and services deemed as ‘minimally adequate,’ according to the living standards of the early 1960s.”

“Persons are considered poor, for statistical purposes, if their family’s countable money income is below its corresponding poverty threshold,” the CRS states.

The Census has been tracking these data since 1959, when the percentage of children under 18 living in poverty was 26.9%. In 1964, when then-President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the War on Poverty, the percentage of children living in poverty was 22.7%. Since then until now, the percentage has decreased by only 6.2%.

“In 2012, over one in five children (21.3%) in the United States, some 15.4 million, were poor – both their poverty rate and estimated number poor were statistically unchanged from 2011,” said the CRS report.  “The lowest recorded rate of child poverty was in 1969, when 13.8% of children were counted as poor.”

“Children living in single female-headed families are especially prone to poverty,” says the report.  “In 2012, a child living in a single female-headed family was well over four times more likely to be poor than a child living in a married-couple family. In 2012, among all children living in single female-headed families, 47.2 % were poor.”

“In contrast, among children living in married-couple families, 11.1% were poor,” said the CRS report. “The increased share of children who live in single female-headed families has contributed to the high overall child poverty rate.”