Introduction: This report investigates the trends in childhood poverty rates between 1990 and 2014 in the United States.
Methods: Data were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, reorganized for public use by the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, IPUMSusa. Trends in childhood poverty rates are examined by children’s sex, race/ethnicity, nativity, and among the five largest Latino national subgroups. This report also compares current state-level childhood poverty rates using the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. These 2014 state-level childhood poverty rates are mapped to illustrate the distribution of childhood poverty rates across the United States.
Results: Childhood poverty rates were higher than overall poverty rates that include adults between 1990 and 2014. Foreign-born children experienced higher poverty rates than their domestic-born counterparts. In 2014, 26.9% of foreign-born children were living in poverty, compared to 22.5% of domestic-born children. Among all racial/ethnic groups, Latino children had the second highest childhood poverty rates between 1990 and 2014. Childhood poverty rates were concentrated in the Southeastern and Southern United States. In particular, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Mexico had some of the highest rates across the different sub-populations examined in this report.
Discussion: Despite a common narrative that Latinos in poverty are concentrated in states that share the Mexico-U.S. border, the highest Latino childhood poverty rates were actually located farther North. Still, childhood poverty rates in Border States are higher compared to the Nation’s overall childhood poverty rate. Policymaking aimed at reducing poverty may consider focusing on non-Hispanic black and Latino populations, which had the higher poverty rates among all racial/ethnic groups.