Children in Persistent Poverty

The economic situation of families that children are born into too often predetermines the opportunities they will have to lead productive lives. This is particularly troubling for children who are born into poverty. Indeed, about half of poor newborns will spend at least half of their childhood living below the poverty line. The effects can reproduce themselves generation after generation, leaving many American families caught in a vicious circle of poverty.

This video explores the ways persistent poverty affects children, adults, and society at large. It takes a look at the number of persistently poor children, the demographic groups most affected, and what happens to persistently poor children over time. And it suggests ways of shaping policies to help break the vicious circle and put more children and families on a path to economic prosperity and healthier lives.

Source material drawn from:

1. Childhood Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences

2. Childhood Poverty and Its Lasing Consequences

3. Child Poverty and Adult Success

4. The Poverty Clinic - The New Yorker

5. American Academy of Pediatrics 2016 study

6. Reducing Child Poverty in the United States

7. Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

8. Shonkoff, Jack, Andrew Garner, Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care, and Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Benjamin Siegel, Mary Dobbins, Marian Earls, Laura McGuinn, John Pascoe, and David Wood. 2012. “The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress.” Pediatrics 129(1): e232-246.

9. Duncan, Greg, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, and Pamela Kato Klebanov. 1994. “Economic Deprivation and Early Childhood Development.” Child Development 

This video was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation through the Urban Institute’s Low-Income Working Families Project, a multiyear effort that focuses on the private- and public-sector contexts for families’ well-being. We are grateful to them and to all our funders who make it possible for Urban to advance its mission. Funders do not determine our research findings or the insights and recommendations of our experts. The views expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.