More U.S. kids living in high-poverty areas: study

Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:22pm EST
 
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By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Years of economic setbacks have taken their toll on the nation's youngest residents, with another 1.6 million children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, according to one study that shows nearly eight million children residing in poor areas in 2010.

In 2000, 6.3 million children lived in high poverty in the United States, a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found.

The growth -- a 25 percent increase -- reverses the trend just a decade ago that saw fewer children living in communities with high poverty rates, according to the nonprofit group.

And three-quarters of those children live in such areas despite having at least one parent working, the study showed.

The findings reflect the hit the U.S. economy took during and after the 2007-2009 recession even as signs now point to steady recovery. The nation's jobs market has improved, the number of home sales has grown and recent gains on Wall Street have prompted optimism among investors.

"The recession has really set back much of the progress that was made in the 1990s when poverty went down," Robert Sampson, a professor of social sciences at Harvard University and head of the Social Sciences Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and data at the foundation, said the data is a key indicator because the poverty children face growing up can have a direct impact on their success as adults.

"Their families have a harder time providing for basic necessities like good housing, being able to access health insurance and good quality health care," Speer said. "Kids who attend schools that are in low-income communities ... tend to struggle in school in lots of different ways."   Continued...