Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. PF 3.2 Children in Poor and Very Poor Neighborhoods

01/01/2000

Recent research has demonstrated a significant relationship between neighborhood quality and the well-being of the children and youth who live in them. Even after controlling for relevant personal and family background characteristics, residence in a low-income neighborhood has been shown to have negative effects on early childhood development, associated with higher rates of dropping out of high school, and with teen parenthood.12 In 1997, 55.8 percent of children living below the poverty level lived in a very poor neighborhood— defined as a census tract in which 40 percent or more of the residents live in poor families13 (see Table PF 3.2).

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin. Hispanic children were the most likely to live in very poor neighborhoods, followed by white children and black children. Sixty-one percent of Hispanic children in poverty lived in more than 40 percent poor neighborhoods, compared to 56 percent of white children and 53 percent of black children (see Figure PF 3.2).

Differences by Family Structure. Children in single-parent families in poverty were much more likely to live in a very poor neighborhood than were children in two-parent families (70.8 percent versus 38.6 percent) (see Figure PF 3.2)

Table PF 3.2. Percentage of related childrena in the United States below the poverty levelb by the poverty level of their neighborhood, by age, family structure, and race and Hispanic originc : 1997

  All Areas Neighborhood Poverty Level
Poor Non-Poor Poor 30+ Percent Poor 40+ Percent Poor
Total 19.2 13.2 41.5 51.0 55.8
Age of child
Under 6 years 21.6 15.2 45.4 54.8 57.6
6 - 17 years 18.0 12.2 39.6 49.0 54.9
Family structure
Married couple families
Under 6 years 10.6 7.7 26.9 38.0 38.2
6 - 17 years 8.8 6.0 23.7 33.1 38.8
Single parent families (female)
Under 6 years 59.1 51.0 70.3 72.3 78.5
6 - 17 years 44.7 35.8 60.3 64.0 67.6
Race and Hispanic originc
Whitec 15.4 11.2 38.3 51.9 56.0
Blackc 36.8 28.6 45.5 48.5 53.0
Hispanicc 36.4 25.9 52.2 58.6 61.1

a Under 18 years of age.

b Poverty rate of neighborhood in 1979, poverty status of persons in 1997.

c Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race. Estimates for whites and blacks include persons of Hispanic origin. Estimates for whites also include all other persons not white, black, or Hispanic.

Note: Neighborhoods are defined as census tracts and block-numbering areas. Both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas are included. The poverty rate is the percentage of all persons in the neighborhood living in families below the federal poverty line in 1990.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey: March Supplement. Available online at http://ferret.bls.census.gov/macro/031998/pov/5_001.htm.


Figure PF 3.2. Percentage of children below the poverty level in the United States who live in very poor (40+ percent poverty) neighborhoods, by race and family structure, 1997

Figure PF 3.2 Percentage of children below the poverty level in the United States who live in very poor (40+ percent poverty) neighborhoods, by race and family structure, 1997

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey: March Supplement. Available online at http://ferret.bls.census.gov/macro/031998/pov/5_001.htm.


12 Brooks-Gunn, J., Duncan, G., Klebanov, P., & Sealand, N. 1994. Do Neighborhoods Influence Child and Adolescent Behavior? American Journal of Sociology 99 (2): 353-395. See also Crane, J. 1991. The Epidemic Theory of Ghettos and Neighborhood Effects on Dropping Out of High School and Teenage Childbearing. American Journal of Sociology 96 (5): 1126-1159.

13 While trend data for children are not available, trends for the entire population show that between 1970 and 1990, the percent of all persons living in very poor neighborhoods increased from 3 percent to 4.5 percent, and the numbers nearly doubled from 4.1 million to 8 million. See Jargowsky, P.A. 1996. Poverty and Place: Ghettos, Barrios, and the American City, Table 2.1. New York: Russell Sage.

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