Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2004. Economic Security Risk Factor 1. Poverty Rates

04/27/2005

Figure ECON 1. Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by Age: 1959-2002

Figure ECON 1. Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by Age: 1959-2002

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 2002,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-222 and data published online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.


  • The official poverty rate was 12.1 percent in 2002, an increase over the rate of 11.7 percent in 2001. Even so, the percentage of persons living in poverty in 2002 was below the poverty rates experienced in most of the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Children under 18 had a poverty rate of 16.7 percent in 2002, statistically unchanged from 2001. As in past years, the child poverty rate is considerably higher than the overall poverty rate.
  • The poverty rate for the elderly (persons ages 65 and over) was 10.4 percent in 2002, an increase over the 2001 rate. This was a lower poverty rate than the rate for children under 18 (16.7 percent) and statistically indistinguishable from that of adults ages 18-64.
  • Poverty rates by race are affected by a change in the questionnaire that allows individuals to report one or more races. The poverty rate for individuals reporting black race alone was 24.1 percent, as shown in Table ECON 1; the rate for those reporting black alone or in combination with other races was 23.9 percent (data not shown). Under either measurement, the gap between black and white poverty rates was close to 14 percentage points, slightly higher than the historic low of 13 percentage points in 2000 and 2001; but significantly lower than the early 1990s, when it exceeded 21 percentage points.

Table ECON 1. Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity and Age: Selected Years

Calendar Year Related Children All Persons White Black Hispanic Origin
Ages 0-5 Ages 6-17 Total Under 18 18 to 64 65 & over
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 18.3 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 18.3 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
1998 20.6 17.1 12.7 18.9 10.5 10.5 10.5 26.1 25.6
1999 18.0 15.5 11.9 17.1 10.1 9.7 9.8 23.6 22.7
2000 17.8 14.7 11.3 16.2 9.6 9.9 9.5 22.5 21.5
2001 18.2 14.6 11.7 16.3 10.1 10.1 9.9 22.7 21.4
2002 18.5 15.2 12.1 16.7 10.6 10.4 10.2 24.1 21.8

Notes: All persons under 18 include related children (own children, including stepchildren and adopted children, plus all other children in the household who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption), unrelated individuals under 18 (persons who are not living with any relatives), and householders or spouses under age 18.

In this table, race categories include those of Hispanic ethnicity. Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race. Beginning in 2002, estimates for Whites and Blacks are for persons reporting a single-race only. Persons who reported more than one race are included in the total for all persons but are not shown under any race category. For example, the poverty rate of 10.2 percent shown for Whites in 2002 is for “White Alone including Hispanic.” Though not shown, the rate for “White Alone or in Combination with other races” was 10.3 percent and for “White Alone, Non-Hispanic” the rate was 8 percent. American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders also are included in the total for all persons but are not shown separately, due to small sample size.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Poverty in the United States: 2002,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-222 and data published online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.

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