October 12, 2015

Childhood Poverty, Even Short Term, May Hinder Adult Success

A new report from the Urban Institute provides sobering statistics on child poverty in America and the effect poverty has on adult success. According to the report, 38.8% of American children are poor (i.e., family income is below the federal poverty level) for at least one year before they turn age 18. Researchers compared adult outcomes of children who were “never poor” to those who were “persistently poor” and those who were poor but not persistently (“ever-poor”). Some of the researchers’ notable findings include the following:
  • Overall, 10.5% of American children are persistently poor, but broken down by race, 38.5% of black children are persistently poor compared to 4.3% of white children.
  • “Persistently poor children are 13% less likely to complete high school and 43% less likely to complete college” than children who are poor but not persistently so.
  • “Compared with ever-poor children whose parents do not have a high school education, ever-poor children whose parents have a high school education or more than a high school education are 11 and 30 percent, respectively, more likely to complete high school.”
  • 92.7% of never poor children complete high school, compared to 77.9% of ever-poor children.
  • “Ever-poor children who move three or more times for negative reasons [e.g., home foreclosure] before they turn 18 are 15% less likely to complete high school, 36% less likely to enroll in college or another postsecondary education program by age 25, and 68% less likely to complete a four-year college degree by age 25 than ever-poor children who never move.”
To learn more about factors that contribute to successful adult outcomes, click here to read the full study.