Child Poverty Highest Among Rural African-Americans and Rural Single Mothers

Last Updated: October 27, 2010

This article appeared in the October 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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Young children (those under age six) in rural America are much more likely to live in poverty than children in suburban or central city communities.

A brief from the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute reports that one in five young rural white children, two in five young rural Hispanic children, and one in two young rural African-American children live in poverty. That compares to central city poverty rates of 45.3% for young African-American children, 40.4% for young Hispanic children, and 22.2% for young white children. Poverty is defined in 2009 as $21,756 annual income for a family of four with two adults and two children. A young child is defined in the report as a child under six years of age. 

The brief, “The Unequal Distribution of Child Poverty: Highest Rates among Young Blacks and Children of Single Mothers in Rural America,” packs a wealth of information into a short easy-to-understand paper.

No matter where they live, children living with single mothers face much higher rates of poverty (40%) than children in two-parent families (8%). Rural rural single-mother families have an even higher rate of poverty at about 50%, with poverty rates among single mothers reaching 54% in the rural South.

The brief notes that rural families may have less access to such social programs as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC, a food and nutrition program), Medicaid, home visits, and Early Head Start. Research demonstrates these programs have positive effects on child development that help mitigate the life-long negative consequences of childhood poverty.

Read more from the October 2010 Rural Policy Matters.