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Young Children in Deep Poverty

Authors: Mercedes Ekono, Yang Jiang, and Sheila Smith
Publication Date: January 2016

A U.S. family of three living in deep poverty survives on an annual income below $9,276. The struggle to raise children on such a meager income is not a rare circumstance among U.S. families, especially those with young children. Currently, 11 percent of young children (0-9 years) live in households with incomes below 50 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL), up from 9 percent in 2008. The percentage of young children in deep poverty varies across the states, from 5 percent in North Dakota to 18 percent in Mississippi, 16 percent in South Carolina, and 14 percent in Kentucky and West Virginia. While the negative effects of poverty on children’s early development and long-term school and health outcomes are well documented, less is known about the well-being and family circumstances of young children in the subgroup of families with the scarcest financial resources. This fact sheet compares the early health, development, and risk characteristics of young children in deep poverty to children in families that are poor, but not deeply poor, and to families that are not poor.

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