Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2000. Economic Security Risk Factor 5. Food Insecurity

03/01/2000

Figure ECON 5. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure: 1998

Figure ECON 5. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure: 1998

Source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, ERS, calculations using data August 1998 CPS Food Security Supplement.


  • A large majority (88 percent) of American households was food secure in 1998 – that is, showed little or no evidence of concern about food supply or reduction in food intake.
  • Approximately 12 percent of households experienced food insecurity (not being able to afford enough food) at some level during 1998. More than two-thirds of the food insecure households were without hunger, meaning that although food insecurity was evident in their concerns and in adjustments to household food management, little or no reduction in food intake was reported.
  • Less than 4 percent of all households were classified as food insecure with hunger. Thus, one or more members of these households were estimated to have experienced reduced food intake and hunger as a result of financial constraints in 1998.
  • As shown in Table ECON 5, households with children under 18 were more likely than households with elderly but no children to experience food insecurity in 1998 (17.6 percent compared to 5.4 percent).
  • Households with income below poverty had a higher rate of food insecurity (38 percent) than the 12 percent rate among the general population. Only 5 percent of families with incomes at or above 185 percent of the poverty level showed evidence of food insecurity.

Table ECON 5. Percentage of Households Classified as Food Insecure, by Selected Characteristics: 1998

  Food Secure Food Insecure Without Hunger Food Insecure With Hunger
All Households 88.2 8.1 3.7
Racial Categories      
Non-Hispanic White 91.7 5.6 2.6
Non-Hispanic Black 75.7 15.8 8.5
Hispanic 75.0 18.2 6.8
Non-Hispanic Other 86.5 9.8 3.6
Households, by Age and Race      
Households with Children Under 6 81.2 14.8 4.0
Non-Hispanic White 87.3 10.2 2.5
Non-Hispanic Black 66.6 24.9 8.5
Hispanic 69.8 24.6 5.6
Households with Children Under 18 82.4 13.3 4.3
Non-Hispanic White 87.7 9.3 3.0
Non-Hispanic Black 69.1 22.5 8.4
Hispanic 69.2 23.8 7.0
Households with Elderly but No Children 94.6 3.7 1.7
Non-Hispanic White 96.4 2.6 1.0
Non-Hispanic Black 82.4 11.3 6.3
Hispanic 84.1 9.4 6.5
Households with Children, by Family Structure      
Married Couple Families 88.5 9.4 2.1
Female Head, No Spouse 64.6 24.8 10.6
Male Head, No Spouse 80.2 14.3 5.5
Household Income-to-Poverty Ratio      
Under 0.50 58.1 25.7 16.2
Under 1.00 61.9 24.4 13.6
Under 1.30 65.7 22.4 11.9
Under 1.85 72.0 18.7 9.3
1.85 and over 94.9 3.8 1.4

Note: Food secure households show little or no evidence of concern about food supply or reduction in food intake. Households classified as food insecure without hunger report food-related concerns, adjustments to household food management, and reduced variety and desirability of diet but report little or no reduction in food intake. Households classified as food insecure with hunger report reduced food intake and hunger, among adults at moderate levels of severity, and extending to children in households with more severe levels of hunger.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, calculations using data from the CPS Food Security Supplement, August 1998.

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