Effects of Poverty on Children

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Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth

The nation’s economic crisis has deeply affected the lives of millions of Americans. Skyrocketing foreclosures and job layoffs have pulled the rug out from under many families, particularly those living in low-income communities. Deepening poverty is inextricably linked with rising levels of homelessness and food insecurity/hunger for many Americans and children are particularly affected by these conditions. Find out below a summary of the myriad effects of poverty, homelessness, and hunger on children and youth. Various volunteer opportunities and resources have also been listed that provide information and tools on ways to fight poverty in America.

What are the current poverty and unemployment rates for Americans? The ongoing economic crisis has negatively affected the livelihoods of millions of Americans. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2013), the unemployment rate is 7.9 percent as of January 2013. Despite the data showing an increase of only 0.1 percent from December 2012, the unemployment rate is still high by all accounts, having doubled since the beginning of the recession in December 2007. * U.S. Census Bureau data shows that the U.S. poverty rate rose to 15.1 percent (46.2 million) in 2010, an increase from 14.3 percent (approximately 43.6 million) in 2009 and the highest level since 1993. In 2008, 13.2 percent (39.8 million) Americans lived in relative poverty.  * In 2000, the poverty rate for individuals was 12.2 percent and for families was 9.3 percent.  * In 2010, the poverty threshold, or poverty line, was $22,314 for a family of four.  * Over 15 percent of the population fell below this threshold in 2010.  * The percentage of people in deep poverty was 13.5 percent of all Blacks and 10.9 percent of all Hispanics, compared to 5.8 percent of Asians and 4.3 percent of Whites.  * While non-Hispanic Whites still constitute the largest single group of Americans living in poverty, ethnic minority groups are overrepresented (27.4 percent African American; 28.4 percent American Indian and Alaskan Native; 26.6 percent Hispanic, and 12.1 percent Asian and Pacific Islander compared with 9.9 percent non-Hispanic White).  * These disparities are associated with the historical marginalization of ethnic minority groups and entrenched barriers to good education and jobs.

Where is child poverty concentrated? 
* U.S. Census data reveals that from 2009 to 2010, the total number of children under age 18 living in poverty increased to 16.4 million from 15.5 million. Child poverty rose from 20.7 percent in 2009, to 22 percent in 2010, and this is the highest it has ever been since 1993.  * Racial and ethnic disparities in poverty rates persist among children. The poverty rate for Black children was 38.2 percent; 32.3 percent for Hispanic children; 17 percent for non-Hispanic White children; and 13 percent for Asian children.  * The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that 17.2 million children living in the U.S. have a foreign-born parent, and 4.2 million children of immigrant parents are poor. It is reported that child poverty in immigrant families is more closely related to low-wage work and barriers to valuable work supports.  * The Population Reference Bureau (2010) reports that 24 percent of the 75 million children under age 18 in the U.S. live in a single-mother family. The poverty rate for children living in female-householder families (no spouse present) was 42.2 percent in 2010; 7 in 10 children living with a single mother are poor or low-income, compared to less than a third (32 percent) of children living in other types of families. A staggering 50.9 percent of female-headed Hispanic households with children below 18 years of age live in poverty (48.8 percent for Blacks; 31.6 percent Asian, and 32.1 percent non-Hispanic White).  * Single-mother headed households are more...
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