Why are Children Poor?

32 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2004

See all articles by Victor R. Fuchs

Victor R. Fuchs

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 1986


Data from the 1960, 1970, and 1980 Censuses of Population and theCurrent Population Surveys of 1980 and 1985 are used to describe and analyzethe economic position of children with special emphasis on cross-sectiondifferences and variation over time in the incidence of poverty. Between1959 and 1979 the income available to children tended to follow the samepattern as adult income, but between 1979 and 1984 the trends for childrenwere very unfavorable. Poverty rose, average income fell, and incomeinequality increased. Contrary to popular belief, the increase in femaleheadedhouseholds played only a small part in the growth of poverty amongchildren since 1979. Income available to children fell because householdswith children are highly dependent on labor income- -which fell for all agegroups. The elderly (65+), who derive 75 percent of their income fromnonlabor sources (e.g., social security, private pensions, interest), werethe only age group to experience gains in real per capita income during1979-84. The conclusions about trends in the money income available tochildren and adults are relatively unchanged when estimates of the value ofnonmarket production and in-kind government social welfare programs areadded to money income.

Suggested Citation

Fuchs, Victor R., Why are Children Poor? (July 1986). NBER Working Paper No. w1984. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=344790

Victor R. Fuchs (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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