Special Report

States Where the Most Children Live in Poverty

There are more than 40 million Americans living below the poverty line – an income threshold of about $35 per day. Of those facing such extreme financial hardship, children are disproportionately affected, as the United States has one of the worst child poverty rates among wealthy, developed countries. There are nearly 12.6 million Americans under age 18 who live in households with poverty level income.

Not only are children at higher than average risk of poverty, they are also especially vulnerable to poverty’s harmful effects, both in the immediate and long-term. 

Childhood poverty can negatively impact brain development and has been linked with a greater likelihood of chronic illness, shorter life expectancy, and poor emotional and behavioral health. Those who spend some or all of their childhood in poverty are also less likely to be successful academically, or, later in life, economically. 

Nationwide, an estimated 17.5% of children under age 18 live below the poverty line. This share varies by state, however, and in some parts of the country, child poverty is far more common than average. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the highest child poverty rates. 

Among the 50 states, child poverty rates range from 8.9% to over 25%. While states with the lowest child poverty rates span the country, those with the highest child poverty rates are overwhelmingly concentrated in the South. Here is a look at the income a family needs to cover normal living expenses in every state. 

Families in states with the highest child poverty rates are far more likely than the average American family to depend on government assistance to afford basic necessities. In each of the 15 states with the highest child poverty rates, the share of households with children receiving SNAP benefits, or food stamps, exceeds the 5.6% national share. Here is a look at the cities with the most people on food stamps

Click here to see the states where the most children live in poverty
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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