Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

U.S. Child Poverty Rate Falls

NEW YORK, September 16, 2014

For the first time in 13 years, the U.S. child poverty rate fell significantly in 2013 to 19.9 percent, two percentage points below the 2012 rate. New data from the Census Bureau show that 14.7 million children lived below the poverty line in 2013, down from 16.1 million in 2012. "The fact that the child poverty rate is finally going down after all these years is good news," said Renée Wilson-Simmons, director of the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University. "However, we can't lose sight of the fact that one child in five still lives in poverty in America. We have much work to do as a nation to end this threat to our nation's future."

Census analysts note that an increase in the number of parents in families with minor children working full time year round may partly explain the decline in child poverty. While median income for all households did not change between 2012 and 2013, median income for families with children rose.

But not all poor children fared better. Between 2012 and 2013, poverty rates fell for white, Asian, and Hispanic children, but did not improve for black children. The poverty rate for black children in 2013 was 38.3 percent, compared to 30.4 percent for Hispanics, 10.1 percent for Asians, and 10.7 percent for non-Hispanic white children. Child poverty declined in three of the four Census regions, but did not change in the South.

Other key points from the 2013 data:

  • 42 percent of American children (30.6 million) live in families with incomes less than twice the poverty line.
  • 8.5 percent of children (6.1 million) live in deep poverty, with family incomes less than half the poverty line. Eighteen percent of black children (2 million) and 12.5 percent of Hispanic children (2.2 million) live in deep poverty.
  • The poverty rate for persons of all ages fell to 14.5 percent in 2013, from 15 percent in 2012. However, the number of Americans living in poverty in 2013 — 45.3 million — was not statistically different from 2012.
  • 7.6 percent of all children under 19 years old were uninsured in 2013. Among poor children, 9.8 percent were uninsured. The impact of the Affordable Care Act on health insurance coverage will not be observed until the 2014 data are released.

To speak with an NCCP child poverty expert about the new poverty numbers, contact Stephanie Berger, director of communications/media relations, at 212-305-4372/

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is a nonpartisan public policy research center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America's low-income children and families. Part of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, NCCP uses research to inform policy and practice with the goal of ensuring positive outcomes for our nation's children.