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Child Poverty Rate Increases in the US

child poverty
Increasing economic inequality between middle and upper economic classes has grown since the ’90s. Children living in urban centers remain the most affected by poverty and low income.

Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health released a statement based on a study showing that poverty increased dramatically after the recession in 2007. The report states, “Years after the end of the Great Recession, child poverty remains widespread in America’s largest cities. Nearly three children in five living in Detroit are poor, according to the most recent Census figures, a rate that has grown by 10 percentage points since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007. Most children in Cleveland and Buffalo also live in poverty, as do nearly half the children in Fresno, Cincinnati and Memphis.”

The way the U.S. defines poverty is different from the way many other countries define the issue. Most other countries measure poverty after a person has received the social service benefits. However, the U.S. Census measures a person who is below the poverty line before they receive government funded social services that could technically keep them out of poverty.

Children in poverty then, are measured without the benefits that have otherwise kept them out of poverty. Contributing writer, Tim Worstall, of Forbes Magazine writes, “It’s the number of children who would be in poverty if there wasn’t this system of government alleviation of poverty. When we do actually take into account what is done to alleviate child poverty we find that it’s really some two to three percent of U.S. children who live in poverty. Yes, that low: the U.S. welfare state is very much child orientated.”

The Center for American Progress Fund reported that over 45 million Americans are living in poverty. For a family of four this would mean making a combined income of $23,834 or less in a year. Poverty is concentrated disproportionally in the South. Mississippi, for example, is currently at the top of the list with an overwhelming 24.1 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

Some aspects that affect the structural reasons for poverty consist of low economic mobility, federal minimum wage and little to no healthcare coverage. Because children born into poverty start out with a smaller pool of resources to draw from, the cyclic nature of poverty continues generation after generation. Minimum wage is another factor in the conversation as states such as Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina adhere to federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Healthcare is nearly impossible for families living below the poverty line to afford especially if they have jobs that do not provide benefits.

The concentrated collective poverty of certain demographics is reinforced by state and local governments. Concentrated collective poverty refers to a relatively affluent country that has destitute segments of the population living in long-term poverty. Although the rate of child poverty in the U.S. is skewed, there are still large demographics underserved with a lack of resources.

– Maxine Gordon

Sources: Forbes, Salon, Britannica
Photo: Century Times