Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 1998. Economic Security Risk Factor 4. Long-term Poverty

10/01/1998

As with welfare, poverty experiences often occur in a number of discrete episodes. Measures that illustrate the total length of poverty episodes reveal an important aspect of the severity of the risk of dependence.

Figure ECON 4. Percentage of Children Ages 0 to 5 in 1982 Living in Poverty by Cumulative Number of Years in Poverty

Source: Table ECON 4.


  • Among children who were age 0 to 5 in 1982, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) never lived in poverty for any year over the next ten years, as shown in Figure ECON 4. The percentage of children who remained above the poverty line in all years between 1972 and 1981 is similar although somewhat larger (76 percent), as shown in Table ECON 4.
  • During the 1982 to 1991 period, 28 percent of black children experienced longer-term poverty of 6 to 10 years, a percentage much higher than that for non-black children during the same ten-year time period (3 percent).
  • For both time periods, the percentages of all individuals who were poor for only one to two years are much larger than the percentages of all individuals who experienced longer-term poverty, as shown in Table ECON 4. For example, while 11 percent of all individuals were poor for only one to two years between 1982 and 1991, only 3 percent were poor for 6 to 8 years and only 2 percent were poor for 9 to 10 years during the same time period.
  • As shown in Table ECON 4, a somewhat larger percentage of children compared to the percentage of total persons experienced long-term poverty in both time periods, especially long-term poverty of 9 to 10 years.
Table ECON 4. Percentage of Individuals Living in Poverty by Number of Years in Poverty
Source: Unpublished data from the PSID, 1972 - 1991.
  All Persons: 1982 – 1991
Cumulative Years in Poverty All Persons Black Non-Black
0 Years 78.8 50.6 82.9
1 - 2 Years 11.3 14.9 10.7
3 - 5 Years 5.3 14.4 4.0
6 - 8 Years 2.8 11.2 2.0
9 - 10 Years 1.8 8.9 0.7
  100 100 100
  Children 0 - 5 in 1982: 1982-1991
Cumulative Years in Poverty All Children Black Children Non-Black Children
0 Years 73.3 40.9 79.2
1 - 2 Years 12.3 16.5 11.6
3 - 5 Years 7.5 14.8 6.1
6 - 8 Years 3.2 11.1 1.7
9 - 10 Years 3.8 16.8 1.4
  100 100 100
  All Persons: 1972 - 1981
Cumulative Years in Poverty All Persons Black Non-Black
0 Years 79.2 45.6 83.7
1 - 2 Years 12.3 20 11.3
3 - 5 Years 4.6 16.6 3.1
6 - 8 Years 2.5 10.4 1.5
9 – 10 Years 1.2 7.5 0.4
  100 100 100
  Children 0 - 5 in 1972: 1972-1981
Cumulative Years in Poverty All Children Black Children Non-Black Children
0 Years 75.6 34.1 82.3
1 - 2 Years 13.1 21.7 11.7
3 - 5 Years 5.6 20.5 3.2
6 - 8 Years 3.2 11.1 1.9
9 – 10 Years 2.5 12.8 0.9
  100 100 100

 

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