Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 1997. Economic Security Risk Factor 3. Poverty Spells

10/01/1997

The length of a poverty episode illustrates one aspect of the risk of dependence.

Figure ECON 3. Percent of Individuals in Poverty by Spell Length, 1992 SIPP Panel

Figure ECON 3. Percent of Individuals in Poverty by Spell Length, 1992 SIPP Panel

  • Forty-four percent of children age 0 to 15 experienced short poverty spells of less than 4 months and three-quarters of children age 0 to 15 experienced poverty spells of less than one year.
  • As shown in Table ECON 3, compared to non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics have larger percentages of poverty spells that lasted 20 or more months (19 percent) and lower percentages of poverty spells that lasted less than 4 months (around 40 percent).
  • Table ECON 3 shows that adults age 65 and over had longer poverty spells than did other age groups; 35 percent had poverty spells that lasted 20 or more months.
  • As shown in Table ECON 3, a smaller percentage of men than women experienced poverty spells lasting 20 or more months.

Table ECON 3. Percent of Individuals in Poverty by Spell Length, 1992 SIPP Panel

  Spells
<4
Months
Spells
<12
Months
Spells
<20
Months
Spells
20 +
Months
All Persons 45.5 75.5 84.5 15.5
Racial Categories
Non-Hispanic White 48.1 77.4 86.0 14.0
Non-Hispanic Black 39.7 68.8 81.0 19.0
Hispanic 41.9 75.3 80.7 19.3
Age Categories
Children Age 0 - 15 44.1 74.6 85.3 14.7
Women Age 16 - 64 45.0 74.9 83.9 16.1
Men Age 16 - 64 48.2 80.2 88.4 11.6
Adults Age 65 and over 42.2 60.6 65.1 34.9

Note: Spell length categories are not mutually exclusive. Spells separated by only 1 month are not considered separate spells. Due to the length of the observation period, actual spell lengths for spells that lasted more than 20 months cannot be observed.

Source: Unpublished data from the SIPP, 1992 panel.