The Carsey Institute
On August 29th, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data on child poverty that show a disturbing increase in rural child poverty rates in many states. The child poverty rate is the most widely used indicator of child well-being because poverty is closely linked to undesirable outcomes in areas such as health, education, emotional welfare, and delinquency. Changes in child poverty signal important changes in children’s quality of life and life chances.
Key results include:
• Rural child poverty rates increased between 2000 and 2005 in 41 of the 50 states (data were not available in four states).
• In 18 states, the increase in the rural child poverty rate was higher than the increase in the overall U.S. rural child poverty rates between 2000 and 2005.
• The state with the biggest percentage point increase in rural child poverty between 2000 and 2005 was Maine (+ 7.4 percentage points), followed by North Carolina (+ 6.7 percentage points), and Mississippi (+ 6.1 percentage points).
• Only six states showed a decrease in the rural child poverty rate, lead by Wyoming with a 4.2 percentage point decrease.
• Five states (Maine, North Carolina, Mississippi, Ohio and Indiana) experienced increases of five percentage points or more in the rural child poverty rate between 2000 and 2005.
• The rural child poverty rate in 2005 ranges from a low of just over six percent in Connecticut to a high of nearly 37 percent in Mississippi.
• Five states (Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, and Alabama) all had rural child poverty rates above 30 percent in 2005, which reflects the pervasive child poverty in the rural South.
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Center for Rural Affairs
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