Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 1998. Economic Security Risk Factor 1. Poverty Rates

10/01/1998

Poverty rates illustrate the economic condition of families and, as such, a key risk factor of dependence.

Figure ECON 1a. Percentage in Poverty by Age

Figure ECON 1a. Percentage in Poverty by Age

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 1997," Current Population Reports, Series P60-201 and unpublished tables available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.


  • The percentage of people living in poverty fell from 13.7 percent to 13.3 percent between 1996 and 1997. This decline continues the trend since 1993, when poverty rates were at a ten-year high of 15.1 percent.
  • Children, particularly young children, have much higher poverty rates than the overall population. The poverty rate for related children under 6 reached 25.7 percent in 1992. Since then it has declined, falling to 21.6 percent in 1997.
  • Table Econ 1a shows that the poverty rate for blacks declined from 28.4 percent in 1996 to 26.5 percent in 1997. It still remains higher than the 11.0 percent rate for whites. The poverty rate for Hispanics also dropped between 1996 and 1997 from 29.4 percent to 27.1 percent.

Table ECON 1a. Number and Percentage of Persons in Poverty by Age, Sex, Race and Hispanic Origin, Selected Years

  Related Children All Persons      
Year Under 6 6-17 Total Under 181 18 to 64 65 & over White Black Hispanic Origin2

1 Persons under 18 include both related children (own children, including stepchildren and adopted children, plus all other
children in the household who are related to the householder by blood, marriage, or adoption) and unrelated individuals under 18
who are not living with any relatives.

2 Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 1997," Current Population Reports, Series P60-201 and
unpublished tables available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.

1959 NA NA 22.4 27.3 17.0 35.2 18.1 55.1 NA
1963 NA NA 19.5 23.1 NA NA 15.3 NA NA
1966 NA NA 14.7 17.6 10.5 28.5 11.3 41.8 NA
1969 15.3 13.1 12.1 14.0 8.7 25.3 9.5 32.2 NA
1973 15.7 13.6 11.1 14.4 8.3 16.3 8.4 31.4 21.9
1976 17.7 15.1 11.8 16.0 9.0 15.0 9.1 31.1 24.7
1979 17.9 15.1 11.7 16.4 8.9 15.2 9.0 31.0 21.8
1980 20.3 16.8 13.0 18.3 10.1 15.7 10.2 32.5 25.7
1981 22.0 18.4 14.0 20.0 11.1 15.3 11.1 34.2 26.5
1982 23.3 20.4 15.0 21.9 12.0 14.6 12.0 35.6 29.9
1983 24.6 20.4 15.2 22.3 12.4 13.8 12.1 35.7 28.0
1984 23.4 19.7 14.4 21.5 11.7 12.4 11.5 33.8 28.4
1985 22.6 18.8 14.0 20.7 11.3 12.6 11.4 31.3 29.0
1986 21.6 18.8 13.6 20.5 10.8 12.4 11.0 31.1 27.3
1987 22.3 18.9 13.4 20.3 10.6 12.5 10.4 32.4 28.0
1988 21.8 17.5 13.0 19.5 10.5 12.0 10.1 31.3 26.7
1989 21.9 17.4 12.8 19.6 10.2 11.4 10.0 30.7 26.2
1990 23.0 18.2 13.5 20.6 10.7 12.2 10.7 31.9 28.1
1991 24.0 19.5 14.2 21.8 11.4 12.4 11.3 32.7 28.7
1992 25.7 19.4 14.8 22.3 11.9 12.9 11.9 33.4 29.6
1993 25.6 20.0 15.1 22.7 12.4 12.2 12.2 33.1 30.6
1994 24.5 19.5 14.5 21.8 11.9 11.7 11.7 30.6 30.7
1995 23.7 18.3 13.8 20.8 11.4 10.5 11.2 29.3 30.3
1996 22.7 18.4 13.7 20.5 11.4 10.8 11.2 28.4 29.4
1997 21.6 18.0 13.3 19.9 10.9 10.5 11.0 26.5 27.1
  • The percentage of people living in poverty increased 2.3 percentage points to a level of 15.1 percent between 1989 and 1992 and has since declined to 13.3 percent as the economy has recovered from the recession.

Figure ECON 1b. Percentage of Population Below 50 and 100 Percent of Poverty

Figure ECON 1b. Percentage of Population Below 50 and 100 Percent of Poverty

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 1997," Current Population Reports, Series P60-201 and unpublished tables available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.


  • Since 1975, the percentage of the population with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty threshold has risen and fallen in a pattern that reflects to some degree the trend in the overall poverty rate. For example, the percentage of people below 50 percent of poverty rose from a low of 3.3 percent in 1976 to a high of 5.9 percent in 1983 and then after falling slightly, rose to a second peak of 6.2 percent in 1993. The overall poverty rate – the percentage of people below 100 percent of poverty – also peaked in 1983 and 1993 in a somewhat similar pattern, although with more pronounced peaks and valleys.
  • Over the past two decades, however, there has been an overall increase in the proportion of the poverty population that falls below 50 percent of the poverty level. Whereas the population below 50 percent of the poverty threshold was 30 percent of the poverty population in 1975, it rose to 39 percent of the total poverty population by 1983, and to 41 percent by 1997.
  • Between 1995 and 1997, the percentage of the total population with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level increased slightly, from 5.3 percent to 5.4 percent, in contrast to the decline in the overall poverty level, from 13.8 percent to 13.3 percent.

Table ECON 1b. Number and Percentage of People Below 50, 75, 100, and 125 Percent of Poverty Level, 1975 – 1997

(in Thousands)

    Below 50 percent Below 75 percent Below 100 percent Below 125 percent
Year Total Population Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 1997," Current Population Reports, Series P60-201 and unpublished tables available online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.
1975 210,900 7,700 3.7 15,400 7.3 25,900 12.3 37,100 17.6
1976 212,300 7,000 3.3 14,900 7.0 25,000 11.8 35,500 16.7
1977 213,900 7,500 3.5 15,000 7.0 24,700 11.6 35,700 16.7
1978 215,700 7,700 3.6 14,900 6.9 24,500 11.4 34,100 15.8
1979 222,900 8,600 3.8 16,300 7.3 26,100 11.7 36,600 16.4
1980 225,000 9,800 4.4 18,700 8.3 29,300 13.0 40,700 18.1
1981 227,200 11,200 4.9 20,700 9.1 31,800 14.0 43,800 19.3
1982 229,400 12,800 5.6 23,200 10.1 34,400 15.0 46,600 20.3
1983 231,700 13,600 5.9 23,600 10.2 35,300 15.2 47,000 20.3
1984 233,800 12,800 5.5 22,700 9.7 33,700 14.4 45,400 19.4
1985 236,600 12,400 5.2 22,200 9.4 33,100 13.6 44,200 18.7
1986 238,600 12,700 5.3 22,400 9.4 32,400 14.0 44,600 18.7
1987 241,000 12,500 5.2 21,700 9.0 32,200 13.4 43,100 17.9
1988 243,500 12,700 5.2 21,400 8.8 31,700 13.0 42,600 17.5
1989 246,000 12,000 4.9 20,700 8.4 31,500 12.8 42,600 17.3
1990 248,600 12,900 5.2 22,600 9.1 33,600 13.5 44,800 18.0
1991 251,200 14,100 5.6 24,400 9.7 35,700 14.2 47,500 18.9
1992 256,500 15,500 6.1 26,200 10.2 38,000 14.8 50,500 19.7
1993 259,300 16,000 6.2 27,200 10.5 39,300 15.1 51,900 20.0
1994 261,600 15,400 5.9 26,400 10.1 38,100 14.5 50,500 19.3
1995 263,700 13,900 5.3 24,500 9.3 36,400 13.8 48,800 18.5
1996 266,200 14,400 5.4 24,800 9.3 36,500 13.7 49,300 18.5
1997 268,500 14,600 5.4 24,200 9.0 35,600 13.3 47,800 17.8
  • In 1997, there were 35.6 million people with family income below 100 percent of the poverty threshold, as shown in Table ECON 1b. This included 14.6 million people with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty threshold.

View full report

Preview
Download

"Introduction" (pdf, 47.84Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"Indicators of Dependence" (pdf, 152.45Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"Predictors and Risk Factors Associated with Welfare Receipt (First Half)" (pdf, 158.1Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"Predictors and Risk Factors Associated with Welfare Receipt (Second Half)" (pdf, 150.06Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"Appendices (First Half)" (pdf, 182.84Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"Appendices (Second Half)" (pdf, 289.7Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®