Children in Poverty

Percentage of children living in households ≤100% of the federal poverty level

American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau. Calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2021, 5 year estimate.
Dashboard-City Average

Why do we measure children in poverty?

More children live in poverty than any other age group in the U.S., and poverty is particularly high among Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Native Alaskan children.1,2 When children grow up in poverty, they are more likely to experience inadequate nutrition, limited access to health care services, unstable housing, lower quality of schools, and exposure to environmental toxins.3,4 These disadvantages can put them at increased risk of teen pregnancy, incarceration, and not graduating high school—all of which can reduce their opportunities for good physical and financial health across their lifetimes.5,6 Tracking children in poverty is important because children lack control of their social and economic conditions.

How do we measure children in poverty?

This metric includes children younger than age 18 who live in households below the federal poverty level.

Strengths and Limitations

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

• The economic status of children is not included in the other economic measures included in the City Health Dashboard (income inequality, excessive housing burden, and unemployment).

• Measuring children in poverty is key to understanding the cycle of poverty and predicting health outcomes for future generations.6

• This metric is available broken down by race and ethnicity, which can help target resources and interventions for groups that historically have been underrepresented

• There are other ways of defining poverty, such as 125% or 150% of the federal poverty level.

• This metric does not indicate children’s length of time living in poverty.

• The children in poverty measure does not include homeless children or households in poverty that do not include children.


Children in poverty are calculated by the following formula:

Children in Poverty Calculation

For more information on the calculation, please refer to the City Health Dashboard Technical Document.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from American Community Survey 5-year estimate data using the B17020 table(s). Multi-year data are available for this metric. For more information, please refer to Using Multi-Year Data: Tips and Cautions


  1. Proctor BD. Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the united states: 2010. Report P60-256 September Census Bureau. 2011.

  2. Koball H, Jiang Y. Basic Facts about Low-Income Children: Children under 18 Years, 2016. New York: National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health;2018.

  3. Brooks-Gunn J, Duncan GJ. The effects of poverty on children. The future of children. 1997:55-71.

  4. Ekono MM, Jiang Y, Smith S. Young children in deep poverty. 2016.

  5. Dreyer BP. To Create a Better World for Children and Families: The Case for Ending Childhood Poverty. Academic Pediatrics.13(2):83-90.

  6. Conroy K, Sandel M, Zuckerman B. Poverty grown up: how childhood socioeconomic status impacts adult health. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP. 2010;31(2):154-160.

Last updated: July 26, 2023