Characteristics of Families Using Title IV-D Services in 1997. Family Income and Poverty



About 4.4 million (52 percent) of all IV-D families had a family income under $20,000 in 1997, while 5.7 million (68 percent) had an income under $30,000 (Tables 3A and 3B). Families receiving TANF or other public assistance had, on average, lower incomes than those not receiving assistance. More than four-fifths of child support-eligible families receiving cash assistance, and three-fifths of those reporting other public assistance, had incomes of $20,000 or below. Conversely, only one in five of IV-D families receiving no public assistance had incomes below $20,000.

Families participating in the IV-D program generally had lower incomes than non IV-D families. While the annual incomes of a majority of IV-D families fell below $20,000, only 22 percent of non IV-D families fell into that same income range. In both categories, families receiving no public assistance had higher incomes than those reporting some reliance on government programs.

Ratio of Income to Poverty Level

In addition to family income, the ratio of the family's income to the poverty level is an important measure of economic well-being. Each year, the Census Bureau estimates poverty thresholds that are adjusted for the size of the family unit. In 1997, the weighted average poverty threshold was $12,802 for a family of three and $16,400 for a family of four (Table 4A).

Over 3.3 million, or 40 percent of the IV-D families were below this threshold, and over two-thirds had incomes that fell below 200 percent of the poverty level. In addition, nearly 14 percent of IV-D families were in "deep poverty", or had incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level (Tables 4B and 4C). A large majority (74 percent) of IV-D families receiving cash assistance were poor, as were 44 percent of those families receiving only other government assistance. IV-D families with no public assistance were less poor, with only one in ten having incomes below poverty and 61 percent having incomes at or above 200 percent of the poverty level.

In contrast to those families receiving IV-D services, only 12 percent of non-IV-D families were poor, while more than two-thirds of these families had incomes above 200 percent of the poverty level. Additional outcomes for families both in poverty and near poverty (incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level) can be found later in this analysis.