Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2006. Economic Security Risk Factor 1. Poverty Rates

08/30/2006

Figure ECON 1. Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by Age: 1959-2004

Figure ECON 1. Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by Age: 1959-2004

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-229 and data published online at http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf .


  • The official poverty rate was 12.7 percent in 2004, a small increase over the rate of 12.5 percent in 2003. Even so, the percentage of persons living in poverty in 2004 was below the poverty rates experienced in most of the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Children under 18 had a poverty rate of 17.8 percent in 2004, up slightly from 17.6 percent in 2003. 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 9.8 percent in 2004, down slightly for the second year in a row. This was a far lower poverty rate than the 17.8 percent rate for persons under 18 and below the 11.3 percent rate for adults ages 18 to 64, as shown in Table ECON 1.
  • The poverty rate for persons in female-headed households was 30.5 percent, as shown in Table ECON 1. While about one third of persons in female-headed households lived in poverty in 2004, this was below the poverty rates experienced in the 1980s and most of the 1990s.

Table ECON 1. Percentage of Persons in Poverty, by Age and Marital Status: Selected Years

Calendar Related Children All Persons
Year Ages 0-5 Ages 6-17 Total Under 18 1 18 to 64 65 & over Married Families Female 3 Householder
1959 NA NA 22.4 27.3 17.0 35.2 18.2 2 49.4
1963 NA NA 19.5 23.1 NA NA 14.9 2 47.7
1966 NA NA 14.7 17.6 10.5 28.5 10.3 2 39.8
1969 15.3 13.1 12.1 14.0 8.7 25.3 7.4 2 38.2
1973 15.7 13.6 11.1 14.4 8.3 16.3 6.0 2 37.5
1976 17.7 15.1 11.8 16.0 9.0 15.0 6.4 2 37.3
1979 17.9 15.1 11.7 16.4 8.9 15.2 6.3 2 34.9
1980 20.3 16.8 13.0 18.3 10.1 15.7 7.4 2 36.7
1981 22.0 18.4 14.0 20.0 11.1 15.3 8.1 2 38.7
1982 23.3 20.4 15.0 21.9 12.0 14.6 9.1 2 40.6
1983 24.6 20.4 15.2 22.3 12.4 13.8 9.3 2 40.2
1984 23.4 19.7 14.4 21.5 11.7 12.4 8.5 2 38.4
1985 22.6 18.8 14.0 20.7 11.3 12.6 8.2 2 37.6
1986 21.6 18.8 13.6 20.5 10.8 12.4 7.3 2 38.3
1987 22.3 18.3 13.4 20.3 10.6 12.5 7.2 2 38.1
1988 21.8 17.5 13.0 19.5 10.5 12.0 6.6 37.2
1989 21.9 17.4 12.8 19.6 10.2 11.4 6.7 35.9
1990 23.0 18.2 13.5 20.6 10.7 12.2 6.9 37.2
1991 24.0 19.5 14.2 21.8 11.4 12.4 7.2 39.7
1992 25.7 19.4 14.8 22.3 11.9 12.9 7.7 38.5
1993 25.6 20.0 15.1 22.7 12.4 12.2 8.0 38.7
1994 24.5 19.5 14.5 21.8 11.9 11.7 7.4 38.6
1995 23.7 18.3 13.8 20.8 11.4 10.5 6.8 36.5
1996 22.7 18.3 13.7 20.5 11.4 10.8 6.9 35.8
1997 21.6 18.0 13.3 19.9 10.9 10.5 6.4 35.1
1998 20.6 17.1 12.7 18.9 10.5 10.5 6.2 33.1
1999 18.4 15.7 11.9 17.1 10.1 9.7 5.9 30.5
2000 17.8 14.7 11.3 16.2 9.6 9.9 5.5 27.9
2001 18.2 14.6 11.7 16.3 10.1 10.1 5.7 28.6
2002 18.5 15.3 12.1 16.7 10.6 10.4 6.1 28.8
2003 19.8 15.9 12.5 17.6 10.8 10.2 6.2 30.0
2004 19.9 16.0 12.7 17.8 11.3 9.8 6.4 30.5

1 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.

2 In 1959-1987, the married families category includes a small number of persons in male-headed families, no spouse present. In 1988, poor persons in male-headed families, no spouse present, comprised just over 8 percent of the combined total of both groups of persons below the poverty level.

3 No spouse present.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-229 and data published online at http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf.

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