Analysis of Children's Health Insurance Patterns: Findings from the SIPP. a. Distribution of the Population

05/12/1999

To calculate the family poverty level for each child, we used the September 1994 family income and family size, as constructed by the Census Bureau, and compared the family income to 1/12 the annual poverty threshold for a family of the size reported in that month.4 By this measure, 9 percent of children under 19 were in families below 50 percent of the poverty line, and nearly 12 percent were in families between 50 and 100 percent of poverty, yielding a total poverty rate close to 21 percent (see Table 5).5 A slightly larger percentage of children were in families between 100 and 200 percent of poverty while a slightly smaller fraction were in families between 200 percent and 300 percent of poverty. Just over one-third or 35 percent of children were in families above 300 percent of poverty.

We measured parents' employment by first determining whether each parent present in the child's household in September 1994 was employed full time, part time, or not at all in that month, and then we classified children as having one or both parents employed full time, neither parent employed full time but one or both parents employed part time, and neither parent working. Children with no parent identified as present in the household were classified separately. By this measure, 78 percent of children had one or both parents employed full time, 5 percent had parents employed only part time, 14 percent had no parents working, and 2 percent had no parents present in the household.

TABLE 5: DISTRIBUTION OF CHILDREN UNDER 19 BY SOCIOECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS: SEPTEMBER 1994
Socioeconomic Characteristic Number Percent
Poverty Level 69,935,000 100
    Less than 50% FPL 6,459,000 9.2
    50% to < 100% FPL 8,114,000 11.6
    100% to < 200% FPL 16,465,000 23.5
    200% to < 300% FPL 14,325,000 20.5
    300% FPL or Greater 24,573,000 35.1
Parents' Employment 69,935,000 100
    1 or More Full Time 54,894,000 78.5
    Part Time Only 3,642,000 5.2
    No Working Parent 9,834,000 14.1
    No Parent Present 1,565,000 2.2
Parents' Education 69,935,000 100
    No Parent Present 1,565,000 2.2
    6 Years or Less 1,602,000 2.3
    7 to 11 Years 6,780,000 9.7
    12 Years 23,323,000 33.3
    Attended College 16,620,000 23.8
    4-Year College Degree 10,383,000 14.8
    Graduate Work 9,662,000 13.8
SOURCE: Survey of Income and Program Participation, 1992 Panel.

To classify children by their parents' education, we assigned each parent present in the child's household in September 1994 to one of six educational levels, based on years of schooling completed and whether the parent obtained a college degree. We then classified each child by the higher of either parent's level of education when both were present or by the one parent's level of education when only one was present. Children with no parent present were assigned to a separate category. Only 2 percent of children had parents with six or fewer years of schooling, and 10 percent had parents with at most 7 to 11 years of schooling. The largest group of children, at 33 percent, had at least one parent with exactly 12 years of schooling (and the other, if present, with 12 years or less). The remaining 52.5 percent of children had parents who attended college but did not graduate (24 percent), completed a four-year degree (15 percent), or went on to graduate school (about 14 percent).

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