Wednesday, 05 March 2014 17:38

Record Levels in United States for Childhood Poverty

Written by  No More Poverty
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January saw the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the "War on Poverty" in the United States. Unfortunately, this anniversary also correlated with a study conducted by the Children's Defense Fund that showed that childhood poverty had reached record levels in the United States. The annual report, called "The State of America's Children," found that roughly one if five children was poor, living in a household that was either below or at the minimum threshold for the Federal Poverty Level. In addition, the study found that more than 16 million children live in a home that is classified as "food insecure," meaning that they often go without food.

Additional findings of the study showed that half of the nation's poor children come from 8 states:

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Georgia
  4. Illinois
  5. New York
  6. Northolina
  7. Ohio
  8. Texas

One in nine children lacked access to adequate food in 2012 and that in many states nearly 50% of African American children were poor.

These numbers stand in stark contrast to the findings that the overall poverty rate in the United States, when adjusted for inflation, has decreased by roughly 10% in the last 50 years and that the percentage of the elderly living in poverty has decreased from 33% to 10% over the same period.

So why are childhood poverty rates so high? One contributing factor, at least among race and ethnic groups, is income and wealth gaps. The average white household in the United States has wealth estimated at $110,500 compared to wealth for Hispanic and African American households with wealth at $7,683 and $6,314 respectively. Many of these children are born into families that are not self-sufficient enough to support an entire household, while others may experience poverty due to job loss or harsh economic situations such as the recent financial crisis.

The cost of childhood poverty to the nation in extra education, health care, criminal justice, and lost productivity is estimated at $500 billion, as well as the toll that it takes on the lives of these children including their physical and mental health.

So the War on Poverty rages on, fifty years after it was declared, but hopefully we are more aware of methods to fight the causes than in 1964 and can begin implementing real solutions to decrease the record levels of childhood poverty.



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