Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors: Fourteenth Report to Congress. Economic Security Risk Factor 1. Poverty Rates

09/22/2015

Figure ECON 1.  Percentage of Persons in Poverty by Age: 1959-2013

Figure ECON 1.  Percentage of Persons in Poverty by Age: 1959-2013

Note: 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.

Source:  U.S. Census Bureau, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-249, and data published online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html


  • Figure ECON 1 shows the percentage of persons in poverty by age from 1959 to 2013.  The official poverty rate was 14.5 percent in 2013, down from 15.1 percent in 2010.  Prior to 2010, poverty rates had increased from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 15.1 percent in 2010, a time period that included the Great Recession.  
  • All persons under 18 had a poverty rate of 19.9 percent in 2013, down from 22.0 percent in 2010.  In all years after 1959, the child poverty rate was higher than the overall poverty rate.
  • Table ECON 1 shows the percentage of persons in poverty by age and family type for selected years.  In 2013, the poverty rate for the elderly (persons ages 65 and over) was 9.5 percent and the poverty rate for other adults (persons ages 18 to 64) was 13.6 percent.
  • Related children from birth to age five have had the highest poverty rate among all age groups throughout the last four decades.  In 2013, 22.2 percent of related children from birth to age 5 lived below the poverty line, though this is down from 25.3 percent in 2010.  
  • The poverty rates for persons in both married-couple families and female-headed families have decreased since the 1960s.  In 1959, 18.2 percent of persons in married-couple families and 49.4 percent of persons in female-headed families were poor.  By 2013, 6.8 percent of persons in married-couple families and 33.2 percent of persons in female-headed families were poor.

Table ECON 1.  Percentage of Persons in Poverty by Age and Family Type: Selected Years

 

Calendar Year

 

   Related Children

All Persons

Ages 0-5

Ages 6-17

        Total

Under 18

18 to 64

65 & over

In married- couple
families

In female- headed families

1959

NA

NA

22.4

27.3

17.0

35.2

18.2

49.4

1963

NA

NA

19.5

23.1

NA

NA

14.9

47.7

1966

NA

NA

14.7

17.6

10.5

28.5

10.3

39.8

1969

15.3

13.1

12.1

14.0

8.7

25.3

7.4

38.2

1973

15.7

13.6

11.1

14.4

8.3

16.3

6.0

37.5

1976

17.7

15.1

11.8

16.0

9.0

15.0

6.4

37.3

1979

17.9

15.1

11.7

16.4

8.9

15.2

6.3

34.9

1980

20.3

16.8

13.0

18.3

10.1

15.7

7.4

36.7

1981

22.0

18.4

14.0

20.0

11.1

15.3

8.1

38.7

1982

23.3

20.4

15.0

21.9

12.0

14.6

9.1

40.6

1983

24.6

20.4

15.2

22.3

12.4

13.8

9.3

40.2

1984

23.4

19.7

14.4

21.5

11.7

12.4

8.5

38.4

1985

22.6

18.8

14.0

20.7

11.3

12.6

8.2

37.6

1986

21.6

18.8

13.6

20.5

10.8

12.4

7.3

38.3

1987

22.3

18.3

13.4

20.3

10.6

12.5

7.2

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

20.0

16.0

12.7

17.8

11.3

9.8

6.4

30.5

2005

20.0

15.7

12.6

17.6

11.1

10.1

5.9

31.1

2006

20.0

15.4

12.3

17.4

10.8

9.4

5.7

30.5

2007

20.8

16.0

12.5

18.0

10.9

9.7

5.8

30.7

2008

21.3

17.1

13.2

19.0

11.7

9.7

6.7

31.4

2009

23.8

18.2

14.3

20.7

12.9

8.9

7.2

32.5

2010

25.3

19.6

15.1

22.0

13.8

8.9

7.7

34.3

2011

24.5

19.9

15.0

21.9

13.7

8.7

7.4

34.2

2012

24.4

19.8

15.0

21.8

13.7

9.1

7.5

33.9

2013

22.2

18.2

14.5

19.9

13.6

9.5

6.8

33.2

Note: 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 1959-1987, persons in married-couple families include a small number of persons in male-headed families with no spouse present.  In 1988, the first year for which we have separate data for these families, poor persons in male-headed families with no spouse present comprised just over 8 percent of the combined total of all persons below the poverty level.

Spouses are not present in the female-headed family category. 

Source:  U.S. Census Bureau, “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013,” Current Population Reports, Series P60-249, and data published online at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html.

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