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In 2002, 12.1 million children under 18 years of age lived in families with income below the Federal poverty threshold (e.g., $18,392 for a family of four).1 Children living below the Federal Poverty Level represented 16.7 percent of children in the U.S., a rate that did not change from the previous year. Children represented 35 percent of people in poverty but only 25 percent of the population as a whole.

Poverty affects living conditions and access to health care and nutrition, all of which contribute to health status. Black and Hispanic children were particularly vulnerable. A much higher proportion of Black (32.1 percent) and Hispanic (28.2 percent) related* children under age 18 were poor than were related White children (13.1 percent).

Children in single-parent families are particularly likely to be poor: of children under age 6 living with a single mother, 48.6 percent were in poverty, compared to 9.7 percent of children of the same age in married-couple families.

*Related children are those under 18 who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption.

Graph: Related Children Living in Families Below 100% FPL[d]


Graph: Families Below 100% FPL, by Household Status[d]

1 Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s poverty threshold, which is calculated using the Consumer Price Index from the previous year.