Children in poverty according to the supplemental poverty measure in the United States

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Why This Indicator Matters

Poverty has profound negative impacts on children’s health and well-being, particularly when they experience deep and persistent poverty. The effects of eco­nom­ic hard­ship can dis­rupt children’s cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment, phys­i­cal and men­tal health, edu­ca­tion­al suc­cess and oth­er lifelong out­comes.

While the official poverty measure is based on pre­tax cash income, the Sup­ple­men­tal Pover­ty Mea­sure (SPM) accounts for a broad­er range of fam­i­ly resources, such as non­cash ben­e­fits (e.g., food and hous­ing assistance) and tax cred­its. It also fac­tors in nec­es­sary house­hold expens­es and region­al vari­a­tion in cost of liv­ing. By account­ing for safe­ty net ben­e­fits, the SPM pro­vides an important oppor­tu­ni­ty to gauge the effec­tive­ness of gov­ern­ment anti-poverty inter­ven­tions.

Read about what the 2021 SPM data revealed.

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Data Provided By

Definitions: The number and percentage of children under age 18 who are in poverty according to the supplemental poverty measure.

Data Source:

2018 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) Research File, 2019 CPS ASEC Bridge File, 2020–2022 CPS ASEC. Estimates represent a three-year average.

The 2018–2020 estimates use 2010 Census-based population controls. The 2019–2021 estimates use 2020 Census-based population controls.


Updated September 2022.

Due to an error in the tax model, all 2018 SPM estimates were revised.

A 90% confidence interval for each can be found at

Children in poverty according to the supplemental poverty measure.