Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. ES 1.2 Income distribution

04/01/1997

Figures ES 1.2.A and ES 1.2.B present trends in the income of the poorest and richest families with children. The poorest families are those whose income falls in the bottom 20 percent (or bottom quintile) of all families; the richest families are those whose income falls in the top 20 percent of all families. The measure shown is the income to poverty ratio, the ratio of annual family income to the poverty line. For example, families whose pretax income was half of the poverty line would have a value of 0.50 for this measure. Each figure shows results separately by type of family.

Between 1967 and 1973 the income to poverty ratio of the poorest families increased from 0.74 to 0.88 (see Figure ES 1.2.A). By 1994, the ratio had dropped to 0.66.

Differences in the Income-to-Poverty Ratio by Family Type. The poorest single-mother families fared much worse than the poorest married-couple families (see Figure ES 1.2.A). After an increase from 0.21 to 0.33 between 1967 and 1973, the ratio for the poorest single-mother families dropped and was at 0.25 in 1994. The poorest married-couple families crossed over the poverty line between 1967 and 1973 (from 0.89 to 1.16, see Figure ES 1.2.A). However, since 1979, their ratio has declined, reaching 1.06 by 1994.

Difference in the Income-to-Poverty Ratio by Income Quintile. While the poorest families with children were getting poorer, the richest families with children were getting richer (see Figure ES 1.2.B). Between 1967 and 1994, the income to poverty ratio of the richest families increased from 4.77 to 7.14.

For the richest married-couple families, the picture was even brighter (see Figure ES 1.2.B). The income to poverty ratio increased from 4.88 to 7.68 between 1967 and 1994. The richest single-parent families headed by women were also well above the poverty line throughout the entire period. Their income to poverty ratio increased from 2.78 to 4.14 between 1967 and 1989 before declining to 4.02 in 1994.

Data for all five income quintiles show that the poorest families (the bottom quintile) were the only families to lose ground between 1967 and 1994 (see Table ES 1.2). For all time periods and all income groups, families headed by single mothers had considerably less income than those headed by married couples.
 

Figure ES 1.2.A  
Income to Poverty Ratio for Families with Children, Bottom Income Quintile, by Family Type, 1967, 1973, 1979, 1989, 1992, and 1994 
 

figes1_2.gif
Note: Poverty thresholds are based on the 1989 distribution of family sizes, with no adjustment for the age of the head of household or the number of children. Quintiles are based on the number of persons. 

Source: Congressional Budget Office tabulations of data from the March Current Population Survey, 1968, 1974, 1980, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1995. 

 

Figure ES 1.2.B  
Income to Poverty Ratio for Families with Children, Top Income Quintile, by Family Type, 1967, 1973, 1979, 1989, 1992 and 1994 
figs1_2b.gif
Note: Poverty thresholds are based on the 1989 distribution of family sizes, with no adjustment for the age of the head of household or the number of children. Quintiles are based on the number of persons. 

Source: Congressional Budget Office tabulations of data from the March Current Population Survey, 1968, 1974, 1980, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1995. 

 

Table ES 1.2 
Average Pretax AFI (Income as a Multiple of Poverty) Among Families with Children, by Family Type and Income Quintile, Weighted by Persons, 1967, 1973, 1979, 1989, 1992, and 1994
 

Family type and Quintile
1967 
1973 
1979 
1989 
1992 
1994 
             
All families with children            
  Lowest Quintile
0.74 
0.88 
0.84 
0.74 
0.65 
0.66 
  Second Quintile
1.54 
1.88 
1.95 
1.87 
1.72 
1.73 
  Middle Quintile
2.13 
2.65 
2.84 
2.93 
2.77 
2.79 
  Fourth Quintile
2.84 
3.54 
3.85 
4.14 
4.00 
4.09 
  Highest Quintile
4.77 
5.73 
6.15 
7.20 
6.86 
7.14 
Total
2.40 
2.94 
3.13 
3.38 
3.20 
3.28 
             
Married couples with children            
  Lowest Quintile
.89 
1.16 
1.18 
1.14 
1.07 
1.06 
  Second Quintile
1.66 
2.12 
2.29 
2.34 
2.25 
2.26 
  Middle Quintile
2.23 
2.84 
3.12 
3.34 
3.26 
3.31 
  Fourth Quintile
2.93 
3.71 
4.11 
4.52 
4.43 
4.58 
  Highest Quintile
4.88 
5.94 
6.41 
7.67 
7.36 
7.68 
Total
2.52 
3.15 
3.42 
3.80 
3.67 
3.78 
             
Single mothers with children            
  Lowest Quintile
0.21 
0.33 
0.32 
0.25 
0.23 
0.25 
  Second Quintile
0.59 
0.71 
0.75 
0.64 
0.58 
0.62 
  Middle Quintile
0.91 
1.03 
1.22 
1.14 
1.06 
1.11 
  Fourth Quintile
1.45 
1.67 
2.01 
2.03 
1.89 
1.94 
  Highest Quintile
2.78 
3.29 
3.65 
4.14 
3.81 
4.02 
Total
1.19 
1.41 
1.59 
1.64 
1.51 
1.59 
             
Note: Poverty thresholds are based on the 1989 distribution of family sizes, with no adjustment for the age of the head of household or the number of children. Quintiles are based on the number of persons.  

Source: Congressional Budget Office tabulations of data from the March Current Population Survey, 1968, 1974, 1980, 1990, and 1993.

 

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