NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Low-Income Children Benefited From '90s Economic Boom

May 24, 2002

Children living in households with incomes up to 150 percent of the poverty level participated in the economic gains of the 1990s, according to a new study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The robust economy and the welfare reforms enacted in 1996 were cited by the foundation as the major contributors to enhanced child well being.

Of the 10 criteria measured, improvements were noted in most categories.

  • More than 10 million children -- or 15 percent of all children -- lived in low income families, defined as households with incomes of $26,195 or less for a family of four.
  • Infant mortality fell by 28 percent between 1990 and 1999 -- while the death rate for children ages 1 to 14 fell by 23 percent.
  • The teen death rate by suicide, homicide or accident fell by 25 percent -- and the teen birth rate was down 27 percent.
  • The number of teens who were neither attending school nor working dropped by 20 percent -- while the number living in poverty was 5 percent lower.

Nevertheless, the number of high school dropouts remained stable, and the proportion of families headed by a single parent rose 13 percent.

Source: Alan Elsner (Reuters), "Children's Well-Being Improves, Study Says," Washington Times, May 24, 2002; "Kids Count 2002, Annie E. Casey Foundation.


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