Community Dividend

Childhood poverty rate climbs past 20 percent in the U.S.

Published January 1, 2013  | January 2013 issue

An estimated 16.4 million children in the U.S. lived below the poverty line in 2011, according to a recent Carsey Institute issue brief based on American Community Survey data. The estimate reflects a 4.5 percent increase in the overall childhood poverty rate in the U.S. since the start of the recent recession, from 18.0 percent in 2007 to 22.5 percent in 2011. The percentage of children living in deep poverty, wherein their family income was less than half the poverty threshold, increased from 8.0 percent to 10.1 percent over the same period. The brief’s authors define poverty according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) income thresholds, which vary by family size and composition. For a family of four made up of two adults and two children, the OMB poverty threshold for 2011 was $22,811.

To download the brief, titled Over Sixteen Million Children in Poverty in 2011, visit the Publications tab at