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Chapter 1: Demographic Context

Indicator 1: Children Living in Poverty

In 2010, the poverty rate for children living with a single mother was higher for American Indian children (53 percent) than for children of two or more races (41 percent),White children (35 percent), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander children (33 percent), and Asian children (29 percent). There were no differences in male versus female poverty rates for children living with a single mother.

In 2010, some 21 percent of children under age 18 were living in poverty. The percentage of children living in poverty ranged from 7 percent to 54 percent, depending on race/ethnicity, living arrangement, and nativity.

The percentage of children who were living in poverty in 2010 was higher for Black children (38 percent) than for Hispanic children (32 percent), Alaska Native children (25 percent), children of two or more races (21 percent), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander children (22 percent), White children (13 percent), and Asian children (12 percent). No differences were found between Black children living in poverty and their American Indian peers (36 percent); however, the percentage of American Indian children living in poverty was higher than those of all other racial/ethnic groups. The percentages of children living in poverty were higher for Hispanic, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander children and children of two or more races than for Asian and White children. No measurable differences between male and female child poverty rates were found overall or within racial/ethnic groups in 2010.

In 2010, the poverty rate for children living with a single mother was 44 percent. Differences were found across racial/ethnic groups. The poverty rate for children living with a single mother was higher for American Indian children (53 percent) than for children of two or more races (41 percent), White children (35 percent), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander children (33 percent), and Asian children (29 percent). No differences were found between American Indian children and Black children (51 percent) or American Indian and Hispanic children (50 percent) overall. The poverty rate for children living with a single mother was higher for Black and Hispanic children than for children of two or more races, Alaska Native children, White children, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander children, and Asian children. Children of two or more races and White children also had higher poverty rates than Asian children. No measurable differences between males and females were found overall or within racial/ethnic groups in the poverty rate for children living with a single mother.

The percentage of Hispanic children living in poverty differed by nativity. In 2010, the percentage of Hispanic children who were living in poverty was higher for children born outside of the United States than for those born within the United States (39 vs. 31 percent). The same pattern by nativity was found in the poverty rates for children living with a single mother. Of those children in this living arrangement, 54 percent of Hispanic children born outside of the United States were living in poverty, compared with 49 percent of those born within the United States.

Overall, a higher percentage of children were living in poverty in 2010 than in 2005 (21 vs. 18 percent). This finding was true for both male and female children. Some differences were found by race/ethnicity: the percentages of White, Black, Hispanic, and American Indian children, and children of two or more races living in poverty were higher in 2010 than in 2005. For example, 30 percent of American Indian children were living in poverty in 2005 compared with 36 percent in 2010. The poverty rate for all children living with a single mother was also higher in 2010 than 2005 (44 vs. 42 percent). The percentage of Black children living with a single mother who were living in poverty was higher in 2010 than in 2005 (51 vs. 50 percent). In addition, the percentage of White children living with a single mother who were living in poverty was higher in 2010 than in 2005 (35 vs. 32 percent).

Technical Notes

To determine living arrangements, children are classified either by their parent's marital status or, if no parents are present in the household, by the marital status of the related householder. Children were identified as living with a single mother if they were living with a female parent with no spouse present in the household. Poverty information was available only for children who were related to the householder. Therefore, estimates exclude 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 uses 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). Born within the United States includes the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas, and those born abroad of American parents.


Figure 1-1 Percentage of children under age 18 living in poverty, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2010

Figure 1-2 Percentage of children under age 18 living in poverty with a female parent and no spouse present, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2010

Table E-1-1 Percentage of children under age 18 living in poverty, by living arrangements, sex, race/ethnicity, and nativity: 2005 and 2010

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