Children Living in Poverty: American Community Survey (ACS), 2005-2016

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Why This Indicator Matters

Developed in the early 1960s, the official poverty measure initially estimated the poverty threshold for a family of four at three times the USDA’s subsistence food budget. Using data from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement, the measure compares the pre-tax income of an individual or family to an annual poverty threshold that includes adjustments for family size and presence of children or elderly householders.  Though the poverty thresholds have been adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, the official poverty measure used to determine eligibility for federal benefit programs has remained essentially unchanged since its inception, and does not account for geographic variations in costs.

Child poverty ties into nearly every indicator across the four thematic domains included in this data book. Some indicators which correlate with poverty status are understood as predictors of poverty— including the employment status or education levels of parents with children under 18— while others are classified by some scholars as consequences of poverty, including births to teens, low birthweight births, and infant mortality. As one of the wealthiest states in the nation, Connecticut faces unique challenges in achieving the goal of putting children first. Overall, 5-year estimates from the American Community Survey reveal an increase in the percent of children living below the Federal Poverty Level, from 12.6 percent in 2007-2011, to 14.1 percent in 2012-2016. While there is just cause for concern regarding the decline in the economic well-being of Connecticut children overall, it is important that these broad measures not obscure the persistent and profound disparities facing children of color in our state. Here, a history of disinvestment in communities of color and other marginalized populations has compounded significant disparities in outcomes, which are particularly apparent when the poverty rate for children is disaggregated by race and ethnicity.

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