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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2010-015
July 2010

Indicator 4. Children Living in Poverty

Poverty poses a serious challenge to a child's ability to succeed in school. Research has suggested that living in poverty in the early childhood years can lead to lower rates of school completion (Brooks-Gunn and Duncan, 1997). Further, growing up in poverty can negatively affect a child's physical health as well as his or her working memory, due to the chronic psychological stress of living in poverty (Evans and Schamberg 2009). In the United States in 2007, some 18 percent of children under age 18 were living in poverty.5 The percentage of these children living in poverty ranged from 5 to 52 percent depending on race/ethnicity and living arrangement.

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The percentages of children who were living in poverty were higher for Blacks (34 percent), American Indians/Alaska Natives (33 percent), Hispanics (27 percent), and Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders (26 percent), than for children of two or more races (18 percent), Asians (11 percent), and Whites (10 percent). The poverty rate for children living with a female parent with no spouse present was higher for American Indian/Alaska Native children (52 percent), Hispanic and Black children (49 percent each) and children of two or more races (39 percent) than for White children (31 percent) and Asian children (31 percent). In addition, the percentage of children living with a female parent with no spouse present and living in poverty was higher for American Indian/Alaska Native children than for Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander children (38 percent). No other measurable differences were found between Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders and other racial/ethnic groups living with a female parent with no spouse present and living in poverty, in part due to high standard errors. For children living with a male parent with no spouse present, the percentages in poverty for American Indian/Alaska Native children (30 percent) and Black children (28 percent) were higher than the percentages for Hispanic children in poverty (24 percent), and each were higher than the percentages for children of two or more races (20 percent), Asian children (16 percent), and White children (15 percent). Among married-parent living arrangements, a smaller percentage of White children and children of two or more races (5 percent each) were living in poverty than was the case for Asian (8 percent), Black (11 percent), Hispanic (18 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (18 percent), and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (19 percent) children.

In general, across racial/ethnic groups, a higher percentage of children living with a female parent with no spouse present were living in poverty than children living with a male parent with no spouse present. Compared with other living arrangements, children living with married parents had the lowest poverty rate for each race/ethnicity shown. For instance, 49 percent of all Hispanic children classified as living with a female parent with no spouse present lived in poverty in 2007, compared with 24 percent of Hispanic children living with a male parent with no spouse present and 18 percent of Hispanic children living with married parents.

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Snapshot of Hispanic and Asian Subgroups: Children Living in Poverty

In 2007, there were 15.3 million Hispanic children and 2.9 million Asian children under age 18 (see indicator 3). Of these children who were living with their parents or a relative, 27 percent of Hispanic children and 11 percent of Asian children were living in poverty.

A higher percentage of Hispanic children were living in poverty (27 percent) than the national percentage of children living in poverty (18 percent). Some 34 percent of Dominican, 32 percent of Puerto Rican, 29 percent of Mexican, 25 percent of Other Central American, and 21 percent of Other Hispanic or Latino children were living in poverty; each percentage was higher than the national estimate. A lower percentage of Cuban children (13 percent) and South American children (14 percent) were living in poverty compared with the national estimate. The percentage of Salvadoran families living in poverty was not measurably different from the national percentage.

A lower percentage of Asian children were living in poverty (11 percent) than the national percentage of children in poverty (18 percent). Specifically, percentages for Filipino (5 percent), Asian Indian (8 percent), Japanese (10 percent), Chinese (11 percent), Korean (11 percent), and Vietnamese (15 percent) children in poverty were lower than the national percentage, while the percentage of Other Asian (20 percent) children living in poverty was not measurably different than the national percentage.

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5 Children are classified by either their parent's marital status or, if no parents are present in the household, by the marital status of the related householder. Poverty information was available for children who were related to the householder. Therefore, this indicator excludes any children who were not related to the householder or who are recorded as the householder or spouse of the householder. To define poverty, the U.S. Census Bureau utilizes a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. A family, along with each individual in it, is considered poor if the family's total income is less than that family's threshold. The poverty thresholds do not vary geographically and are adjusted annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. The official poverty definition counts money income before taxes and does not include capital gains and noncash benefits (such as public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps).


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education