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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Income Distribution

Children's family income distribution provides a broader picture of children's economic circumstances.

Indicator Econ1.B: Percentage of children ages 0–17 by family income relative to the poverty line, 1980–2011
Percentage of children ages 0–17 by family income relative to the poverty line, 1980–2011

NOTE: The graph shows income categories derived from the ratio of a family's income to the family's poverty threshold. In 2011, the poverty threshold for a family of four with two children was $22,811. For example, a family of four with two children would be living below 50 percent of the poverty threshold if their income was less than $11,406 (50 percent of $22,811). If the same family's income was at least $22,811 but less than $45,622 the family would be living at 100–199 percent of the poverty threshold.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements.

  • In 2011, more children lived in families with medium income (29 percent) than in families in any other income group. The percentages of children in low- and high-income families were 22 and 26 percent, respectively.
  • The percentage of children living in families with medium income was lower in 2011 (29 percent) than in 1990 (37 percent). At the same time, the percentage of children living in families with high income was greater in 2011 (26 percent) than in 1990 (21 percent).
  • The percentage of children living in families in extreme poverty rose to 10 percent in 1992, decreased to 7 percent in 1999, and was back at 10 percent in 2011. The percentage of children who lived in families with very high incomes (600 percent or more of the poverty threshold) has nearly doubled, from 7 percent in 1991 to 12 percent in 2011.

table icon ECON1.B HTML Table

37 Child Trends. (2010). Secure parental employment. Retrieved from http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/192.

38 Yeung, W.J., Linver, M.R., and Brooks-Gunn, J. How money matters for children's development: Parental investment and family processes. Child Development 73(6):1861–1879. November/December 2002.