New York: Nearly half of children in the US live dangerously close to the poverty line and more kids today are likely to live in families barely able to afford their most basic needs, a new report has claimed.
The report by researchers from the National Centre for Children in Poverty (NCCP) at Columbia University illustrates the severity of economic instability and poverty conditions faced by more than 31 million children throughout the US.
"These data challenge the prevailing beliefs that many still hold about what poverty looks like and which children in this country are most likely to be at risk," said Renee Wilson-Simmons from NCCP.
"The fact is, despite the significant gains we have made in expanding nutrition and health insurance programmes to reach the children most in need, millions of children are living in families still struggling to make ends meet in our low-growth, low-wage economy," said Wilson-Simmons.
According to researchers, the number of poor children in the US grew by 18 per cent from 2008 to 2014, and the number of children living in low-income households grew by 10 per cent.
NCCP defines a low-income household as one where incomes fall below 200 per cent of the Federal Poverty Threshold (for example USD 48,016 for a family of four with two children in 2014).
A family is considered poor if its earnings are below 100 per cent of the poverty threshold (for example USD 24,008 for a family of four with two children in 2014).
More than four in 10 US children are living close to the poverty line. In 2014, 44 per cent of children under age 18 (31.4 million) lived in low-income households and 21 per cent lived in poor families (15.4 million), the report stated.
Children remain more likely than adults to live in poverty. While 44 per cent of children live in low-income households, only one-third of adults between 18 and 64 years of age live in these households. In addition, children are more than twice as likely as adults 65 years and older to live in poor families, it stated.
America's youngest children are still those most likely to live in low-income or poor households. Some 47 per cent of children age 5 years or younger live in low-income families, compared to 45 per cent of children age 6 to 11 years (10.8 million), and 40 per cent of children age 12 to 17 years (9.7 million), researchers said.
Disparities in child poverty persist along racial lines. More than 60 per cent of black, Hispanic, and Native American kids live in low-income families, compared to 30 per cent of Asian and white children - dynamic largely unchanged since 2008.
Many children living in poverty have parents with some higher education, and many live in two-parent households, the report stated.