In: Business and Management

Submitted By Ikechukwu
Words 2189
Pages 9

In 1998, more than 13 million children (19 percent of all children) under age eighteen lived in families with incomes below the official poverty threshold. Although children age eighteen and under represent 26 percent of the United States population, they comprise nearly 40 percent of the poverty population. Despite a steady decrease from 1993 (23%) to 1999 (17%) in the rate of children in poverty, the United States still ranks highest in childhood poverty among all industrialized nations.

In the United States, income poverty is defined by the poverty threshold, developed in 1959 and based on expected food expenditures (thrifty food basket) for families of varying sizes. Each year the threshold is adjusted for the Consumer Price Index cost of living. In 1999, the poverty threshold for a single mother raising two children was $13,423. Researchers have criticized the poverty threshold on numerous counts. First, government transfers such as food stamps and housing subsidies as well as tax benefits (e.g., the Earned Income Tax Credit) and tax payments are not included when assessing the poverty threshold. Second, regional and urban differences in the cost of living are not considered when computing the poverty threshold. Despite the criticisms levied against the way poverty is assessed in the United States, the current review highlights research that has used this definition of poverty, while acknowledging its weaknesses.

This article reviews the literature linking family poverty to children's cognitive and educational outcomes such as achievement tests, grade completion, and high school graduation. Timing of poverty has been shown to make a difference vis-à-vis child outcomes; thus, the discussion focuses on three stages of childhood: early childhood (age two to four), middle childhood (age five to twelve), and adolescence (age thirteen to eighteen).…...

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