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Children facing economic hardships in the United States

Author

Listed:
  • Hsien-Hen Lu

    (Columbia University)

  • Julian Palmer

    (Landesbetrieb Information und Technik Nordrhein-Westfalen State Centre for Preventive Medicine)

  • Younghwan Song

    (Union College)

  • Mary C. Lennon

    (Columbia University)

  • J. Lawrence Aber

    (New York University)

Abstract

This paper helps document significant improvements in the child low-income rate as well as the significant decrease in the proportion of children who relied on public assistance in the United States during the 1990s. Many disadvantaged groups of children were less likely to live in poor or low-income families in the late 1990s than such children a decade earlier. The improvement in the child low-income rates of these disadvantaged groups was accompanied by a substantial increase in parental employment. However, parental employment appears to do less to protect children from economic hardship than it did a decade earlier. This paper shows that working families’ children in many disadvantaged social groups, especially groups in medium risk ranks--children in families with parents between ages 25 to 29, with parents who only had a high-school diploma, and in father-only families--suffered the largest increase in economic hardship. Our results indicate that the increased odds of falling below low-income lines among children in working families facing multiple disadvantaged characteristics and the increased proportion of these children in various subgroups of working families in the 1990s can help explain the increased economic hardship among subgroups in the medium risk ranks listed above. Finally, the paper also notes that the official measure of poverty tends to underestimate low-income rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Hsien-Hen Lu & Julian Palmer & Younghwan Song & Mary C. Lennon & J. Lawrence Aber, 2004. "Children facing economic hardships in the United States," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 10(11), pages 287-338, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:10:y:2004:i:11
    as

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    File URL: http://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol10/11/10-11.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
    2. Bronars, Stephen G & Grogger, Jeff, 1994. "The Economic Consequences of Unwed Motherhood: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1141-1156, December.
    3. Rebecca M. Blank, 2003. "U.S. Welfare Reform: What's Relevant for Europe?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 49(1), pages 49-74.
    4. Ellwood, David T., 2000. "The Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Social Policy Reforms on Work, Marriage, and Living Arrangements," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1063-1106, December.
    5. John Iceland & Josh Kim, 2001. "Poverty among Working Families: New Insights from an Improved Poverty Measure," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 82(2), pages 253-267.
    6. Neil G. Bennett & Hsien-Hen Lu & Younghwan Song, 2002. "Welfare Reform and Changes in the Economic Well-Being of Children," NBER Working Papers 9399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1999. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and its Effects," JCPR Working Papers 152, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    8. Panel on Data & Methods for Measuring the Effects of Changes in Social Welfare Programs of which John L. Czajka is a memeber, "undated". "Evaluating Welfare Reform in an Era of Transition," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 1152fe95ccc24842917ed5e46, Mathematica Policy Research.
    9. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
    10. John Iceland & Kathleen Short & Thesia I. Garner & David Johnson, 2001. "Are Children Worse off?: Evaluating Well-Being Using a New (And Improved) Measure of Poverty," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 398-412.
    11. Ellwood, David T., 2000. "The Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Social Policy Reforms on Work, Marriage, and Living Arrangements," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1063-1106, December.
    12. Meyer, Bruce D. & Rosenbaum, Dan T., 2000. "Making Single Mothers Work: Recent Tax and Welfare Policy and Its Effects," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(4), pages 1027-1062, December.
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    14. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1993. "Gaining Ground: Poverty in the Postwar United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-38, February.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    bootstrap; childhood poverty; employment; income; low income; poverty measure; welfare reform;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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