Children in poverty in the United States
Why This Indicator Matters
Growing up poor has wide-ranging and long-lasting repercussions.
Poverty elevates a child’s risk of experiencing behavioral, social and emotional and health challenges. Child poverty also reduces skill-building opportunities and academic outcomes, undercutting a young student’s capacity to learn, graduate high school and more.
What is the rate of child poverty in the U.S.?
Currently, 17% of all children in the United States — 12.2 million kids total — are living in poverty. A family of four with annual earnings below $27,479 is considered poor. In the last decade, this rate the percentage of U.S. children in poverty has risen from 18% in 2007 and 2008, peaked at 23% in 2011 and 2012, and fell to 17% 2019.
This indicator is included in the KIDS COUNT Index. Read the KIDS COUNT Data Book to learn more about child poverty levels.
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Children in poverty
Child poverty refers to the share of children under age 18 who live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level.
The federal poverty definition consists of a series of thresholds based on family size and composition. In 2021, the poverty threshold for a family of two adults and two children was $27,479. Poverty status is not determined for people in military barracks, institutional quarters, or for unrelated individuals under age 15 (such as foster children).
Data Source: Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Supplementary Survey, 2001 Supplementary Survey, 2002 through 2021 American Community Survey.
These data were derived from ACS table B17001.
Updated September 2022.
S: Estimates suppressed when the confidence interval around the percentage is greater than or equal to 10 percentage points.
N.A.: Data not available.
Data are provided for the 50 most populous cities according to the most recent Census counts. Cities for which data are collected may change over time.
Use caution when comparing congressional districts over time. Congressional district boundaries may change between decennial censuses. Annual data for each congressional district refers to the boundaries for that district in that year. A 90 percent confidence interval for each estimate can be found at Children in poverty.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Through its investments in the KIDS COUNT Network and public data, the Annie E. Casey Foundation tracks the well-being of children, youth and families in the United States.Learn More
- KIDS COUNT Data Center
- Annie E. Casey Foundation
- 701 St. Paul Street
- Baltimore, MD 21202