One-Third of American Children Now Live in Poverty

Sunday, November 02, 2014
(photo: olesiabilkei via Getty Images)

The wealthiest nation on earth has somehow allowed a third of its children to slip into poverty, according to the United Nations.


Thirty-two percent of all U.S. children reside in households that have annual incomes below 60% of the national median income for 2008, or $31,000, UNICEF reported (pdf). In some states, the rate is even higher. New Mexico’s is 41.9%, the worst in the country. New Hampshire has the best rate, at 12.5%. Regionally, the South has the highest child poverty rates. In terms of population, more than 24 million American minors live in poverty.


UNICEF chose 2008 to show how bad things have become in the U.S. since it was before the Great Recession. Since then, the percentage of American kids living in poverty increased by 2% while 18 other nations lowered their child poverty rates.


 “Extreme child poverty in the United States increased more during the Great Recession than it did in the recession of 1982, suggesting that, for the very poorest, the safety net affords less protection now than it did three decades ago,” the report says.


The United States’ high rate of child poverty earned it a poor ranking by UNICEF, which listed it at 36th out of 41 wealthy nations. In contrast, top-ranked Norway’s rate is only 5.3%.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Child Poverty in the U.S. is Among the Worst in the Developed World (by Christopher Igraham, Washington Post)

‘A Generation Cast Aside’: Child Poverty On Rise in World's Richest Countries (by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams)

Children of the Recession: The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Child Well-Being in Rich Countries (UNICEF) (pdf)

More Kids Are Living in Poverty and Exposed to Air Pollution (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

U.S. Ranks Second Worst in UNICEF Study of Child Relative Poverty in 35 Richer Nations (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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