Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. PF 3.2 Children in poor/very poor neighborhoods

04/01/1997

 
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 low income neighborhoods has been shown to have negative effects on early childhood development and to be associated with higher rates of high school drop out and teen parenthood.9

Overall, one in 20 American children lived in very poor neighborhoods in 1990, defined as census tracts in which 40 percent or more of the residents live in poor families. More than one in five children lived in neighborhoods in which 20 percent or more of the residents live in poor families (see Table PF 3.2).

Differences by Race and Ethnicity. Black children were the most likely to live in very poor neighborhoods, followed by Hispanic children, and at a much lower rate white children. Almost 19 percent of black children live in very poor neighborhoods, compared to 11.3 percent of Hispanic children and 1.2 percent of white children (see Figure PF 3.2).

Differences by Family Structure. Children in single-parent families were much more likely to live in a very poor neighborhood than were children in two-parent families (12.5 percent versus 2.7 percent) (see Figure PF 3.2).

Differences by Family Income. More than one in six poor children (17.5 percent) lived in very poor neighborhoods compared to 2.3 percent of nonpoor children.

 

Figure PF 3.2  
Percentage of Children Who Live in Very Poor (40+ % Poverty) Neighborhoods: 1990. 

FIGPF3_2.GIF

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

 Source: Tabulations by Paul A. Jargowski from 1990 Census Summary Tape File 3A (CD-ROM version)
 

Table PF 3.2 
Percentage of Children Who Live in Poor Neighborhoods: 1990

     
Neighborhood Poverty Level
     
 
     
20+ % Poor
40+ % Poor
     
 
 
         
Total 
22.9
5
         
  Age of Child    
 
 
0-4
23.5
5.3
 
 
5-17
22.7
4.9
  Family Structure    
    Two Parent
17.3
2.7
    Single Parent
41.2
12.5
  Race/Ethnicity    
    White non-Hispanic and other
12.2
1.2
    Black
56.4
18.6
    Hispanic
46.6
11.3
  Family Poverty    
    In poverty
54.6
17.5
    Not in poverty
16.0
2.3
         
Note: Neighborhoods are defined as census tracts and block-numbering areas. Both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas are included. The poverty rate is the percent of all persons in the neighborhood living in families below the poverty line in 1990.  

Source: Tabulations by Paul A. Jargowski from 1990 Census Summary Tape File 3A (CD-ROM version).

 

9 Brooks-Gunn, J., Duncan, G., Klebanov, P., and 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.
 

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