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Children Among the Poor


  • James P. Smith

    (RAND Corporation)


This article investigates a number of issues that clarify the premises underlying the assignment of children into poverty. Conventional definitions indicate much larger poverty rates among children than among adults. Three possible theoretical reasons for this greater representation of children among the poor are explored. It is shown that the most direct mechanism--poorer parents having more children--is of little importance. Instead, the greater incidence of poverty among children is the result of (1) a labor supply effect of children's reducing family income as mothers work less and (2) the assumption of greater household 'needs' when children are present. The research presented here also demonstrates that long-term permanent poverty rates among children are much lower than the conventional yearly measures.

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  • James P. Smith, 2004. "Children Among the Poor," Labor and Demography 0403004, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0403004
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 14. Demography, Volume 26, Number 2, May 1989, pp. 235-248

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, January.
    2. Kilpatrick, Robert W, 1973. "The Income Elasticity of the Poverty Line," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(3), pages 327-332, August.
    3. David Shapiro & Frank Mott, 1979. "Labor supply behavior of prospective and new mothers," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 16(2), pages 199-208, May.
    4. James Smith & Michael Ward, 1980. "Asset Accumulation And Family Size," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 17(3), pages 243-260, August.
    5. Sean Becketti & William Gould & Lee Lillard & Finis Welch, 1985. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics After Fourteen Years: An Evaluation," UCLA Economics Working Papers 361, UCLA Department of Economics.
    6. Pollak, Robert A & Wales, Terence J, 1979. "Welfare Comparisons and Equivalence Scales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 216-221, May.
    7. Becketti, Sean, et al, 1988. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics after Fourteen Years: An Evaluatio n," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 472-492, October.
    8. James P. Smith, 2004. "Poverty and the Family," Labor and Demography 0403014, EconWPA.
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    JEL classification:

    • J - Labor and Demographic Economics

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