Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 1998. Economic Security Risk Factor 3. Poverty Spells

10/01/1998

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

Figure ECON 3. Length of Spells of Poverty for Persons Who Became Poor during the 1993 SIPP Panel

Figure ECON 3. Length of Spells of Poverty for Persons Who Became Poor during the 1993 SIPP Panel

Source: Table ECON 3.


  • Nearly half (47 percent) of all poverty spells ended within 4 months and three-quarters of all poverty spells ended within one year. Only 16 percent of all poverty spells were 20 months or longer.
  • As shown in Table ECON 3, a larger percentage of poverty spells among non-Hispanic blacks were 20 months or longer (23 percent) than was the case for spells among non-Hispanic whites (14 percent) and among Hispanics (15 percent).
  • Spells of poverty among adults age 65 and older tend to last longer than poverty spells among adults age 16 to 64 and spells among children age 0 to 15. As shown in Table ECON 3, only 65 percent of poverty spells among adults age 65 and older ended within one year compared to 80 percent for women age 16 to 64, 75 percent for men age 16 to 64, and 73 percent for children age 0 to 15.

Table ECON 3. Percentage of Poverty Spells for Individuals Entering Poverty during the 1993 SIPP Panel by Length of Spell

  Percent of Spells
  Spells <4 months Spells <12 months Spells <20 months Spells 20+ months

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Source: Unpublished data from the SIPP, 1993 panel.

All persons 47.3 75.4 84.3 15.7
Racial Categories        
Non-Hispanic White 47.3 78.8 86.3 13.7
Non-Hispanic Black 39.9 64.1 76.7 23.3
Hispanic origin 42.5 74.4 84.7 15.3
Age Categories        
Children Age 0 to 15 43.8 73.0 82.2 17.8
Women Age 16 - 64 47.6 79.9 88.9 11.1
Men Age 16 - 64 51.6 75.2 84.2 15.8
65 years and over 40.7 65.4 73.0 27.0

 

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