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Where Do Children in Low-Income Families Live?

Authors: Heather Koball and Ayana Douglas-Hall
Publication Date: November 2003

This is an excerpt from the full report.

The number of America’s children who live in low-income families is growing. In addition, where they live is changing. Children in low-income families are twice as likely to have faced moving in the previous year, compared to children in higher-income families.

Two-thirds of children in low-income families live in the West or the South—a substantial increase in those regions from a decade ago. Immigration has fueled some of the change in the West—37 percent of children of recent immigrants lived there. While the vast majority of the children in low-income families move within regions, the majority who move inter-regionally settle in the South.

Forty-five percent of children in low-income families who moved to different regions did so for the parents’ jobs. Children in low-income families who moved within regions usually did so for housing-related reasons—the most commonly sited was “wanted better housing.”

In the South and West, children in low-income families are more concentrated in rural areas, but they are more likely to live in urban areas in the Midwest and Northeast. Poverty is growing in suburban areas, although they are substantially less likely to be home to the children of low-income families.

This report looks at where children in low-income families live, where and why their families move, and the implications for public policy.