WASHINGTON — We already know that poverty disproportionately affects children, with about 20 percent of those younger than 18 impoverished versus about 13 percent of adults. New research from the Urban Institute in Washington shows child poverty is actually more common than those headline statistics suggest, and that has consequences for success in adulthood.
Some 39 percent of children are poor for at least one year before they reach their 18th birthday, according to Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow and economist at Urban. For black children, that statistic is 75 percent, compared with 30 percent of whites.
A child is identified as poor if they live in a family whose gross annual money income is below the federal poverty level. For a family of three in 2015, that threshold is $20,090, according to the paper.
Here are some of the things that tend to happen to Americans who grow up poor.
1. They have a harder time finishing high school and college.
While 93 percent of children who were never poor complete high school, that figure drops significantly for those who lived in poverty for at least one year (77.9 percent) or at least half of their childhood (63.5 percent).
2. They struggle to get or keep jobs as young adults.
The U.S. workforce is also affected, with about half as many persistently poor children being “consistently employed” from 25 to 30 years old compared with those who did not experience poverty.
3. They have higher rates of teen pregnancy.
Having a baby as a teenager outside of marriage also weighs on adult success down the road, especially with children costing an average $245,340 to raise until the age of 18.