United States Demographics of Low-Income Children
Research suggests that, on average, families need an income of about twice the federal poverty threshold to meet their most basic needs. Children living in families with incomes below this level—$48,678 for a family of four with two children in 2016—are referred to as low income. The United States measures poverty by an outdated standard developed in the 1960s.
In United States, there are 39,650,353 families with 71,988,612 children.
Low-Income Children: 41% (29,589,986) of children live in low-income families
Parental Marital Status
Data Notes and Sources
Last Updated: November 19, 2018
Some graphs may not be shown because of extremely small sample sizes.
Because of rounding, not all figures will add up to 100%.
National data were calculated from the 2016 American Community Survey, representing information from 2016. State data were calculated from the 2015-2016 American Community Survey, representing information from the years 2012 to 2016.
- A child is defined as an individual under the age of 18. Children living independently, living with a spouse, living in group quarters, and children ages 14 and under living with only unrelated adults are excluded from these data.
- Low Income
- Families and children are defined as low-income if the family income is less than twice the federal poverty threshold (see Poor).
- A parent is defined as an individual over the age of 17 who lives with a dependent child. Among children who do not live with at least one parent, parental characteristics are those of the householder and/or the householder's spouse.
- Families and children are defined as poor if family income is below the federal poverty threshold. The federal poverty threshold for a family of four with two children was $24,339 in 2016, $24,036 in 2015, and $24,008 in 2014.
The demographic findings on this page were calculated using federal poverty thresholds issued by the U.S. Census Bureau. For more information about federal poverty thresholds, see the US Census website.
For definitions of other terms, please refer to Explanations of Terms and Data Sources.