Income - Median income for families with children under age 18 by family type in Pennsylvania

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Why This Indicator Matters

Median income is the income amount that divides a population into two equal groups, in which half have an income above that amount and half have an income below that amount.[1] Median income is a more accurate depiction of a population’s economic summary than average income because it is not affected by outlier households with extremely high or low incomes. Calculations of median income provide information about the financial resources available to households and are associated with employment, education, and health.[2] Research findings suggest that children who grow up in low-income households fair worse than their middle- and high-income peers in regard to several life outcomes.[3] Such outcomes include academic achievement, educational attainment, behavioral and cognitive development, and mental and physical health.

Family type or structure describes the configuration of people who live together in one household and are typically related by blood, marriage, or adoption.[4] While the nuclear family phenomenon, featuring biological parents living and raising their children together in one household, is often viewed as the dominant family structure, there are many other family types commonly present in the United States.[5] Children have been found to prosper across all family types, whether they reside with a married couple or a single parent.[6] This said, regular changes within the household, such as family type and income, can cause instability and have potential negative effects on several social, behavioral, and cognitive outcomes.[7] Examining median household income by family type allows researchers to better predict the well-being and economic trajectories of children within the population of interest.



[1] United States Census Bureau. (2021). Median Household Income. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/note/US/INC110219

[2] Live Stories. (2018). Economic Competitiveness, Median Household Income. https://insight.livestories.com/s/v2/median-household-income/7ca8706b-5669-4cc5-9736-be42c0e422dc/

[3] Cooper, K. & Stewart, K. (2013). Does Money Affect Children’s Outcomes? Joseph Rowntree Foundation. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/does-money-affect-children’s-outcomes

[4] Blakeley, S. & Nowaczyk, J. (2021). Family Structure in the U.S. Study.com. https://study.com/learn/lesson/family-structure-different-types-of-family-us.html

[5] American Academy of Pediatrics, Healthy Children. (2015). The “Perfect” Family. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/The-Perfect-Family.aspx

[6] Bzostek, S. & Berger, L. (2017). Family Structure Experiences and Child Socioemotional Development During the First Nine Years of Life: Examining Heterogeneity by Family Structure at Birth. Demography, 54(2), 513–540. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-017-0563-5

[7]  Fomby, P. & Cherlin, A. (2007). Family Instability and Child Well-Being. American Sociological Review, 72(2), 181–204. https://doi.org/10.1177/000312240707200203

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Data Provided By

Definitions: The median income for all families with children under age 18 by family type where income is known.

Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Census, (Tables P15, PCT39 & PCT40) - Annie E. Casey Foundation

(2005-2013) U.S Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 3-year estimates (B19125, B19126)

(2014 - current) U.S. Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 1-year estimate (B19125, B19126)

Footnotes: (2005 - 2013) The six smallest counties are not included in the ACS – Cameron, Forest, Fulton, Montour, Potter, and Sullivan.  Amounts used for those counties are small area (PUMA) figures.

(2014 - current) Single year estimates should not be compared to prior 3-year estimates. The 27 smallest counties are not included in the ACS - Bedford, Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Juniata, McKean, Mifflin, Montour, Perry, Pike, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Wayne and Wyoming.

Updated October 2021.