September 28, 2011

Childhood Poverty Among Hispanics Sets Record, Leads Nation

III. A Profile of Latino Children in Poverty

Hispanic children who live in poverty are demographically different from those who do not. Overall, impoverished Hispanic children are more likely than Hispanic children who do not live in poverty to be in families headed by a single mother (45.4% versus 18.3%) and less likely to be in a married-couple family (45.7% versus 72.8%). Poor Hispanic children are also more likely than those who are not poor to have parents who are unemployed (18.9% versus 13.3%).

When it comes to the educational attainment of the parents of Hispanic children, those in poverty are more likely than those not in poverty to have parents with a high school education or less—79.3% versus 45.4%.

The Children of Immigrant Parents and the Children of U.S.-Born Parents

Latino children in poverty are more likely to have at least one immigrant parent than Latino children who do not live in poverty—67.6% versus 54.2%. And while two-thirds (67.6%) of Latino impoverished children have at least one immigrant parent, just 10.8% of white and 13.3% of black impoverished children have immigrant parents.

Among poor Hispanic children, those with immigrant parents are very different from those with U.S.-born parents. More than half (53.7%) of Hispanic poor children with immigrant parents are in married-couple families, compared with just 29.1% of Hispanic poor children with native-born parents. Along these same lines, 60.6% of Hispanic poor children with native-born parents are in a family with a single mother, compared with 38.2% of Hispanic poor children with immigrant parents.

Parental educational attainment among Latino poor children with immigrant parents is lower than it is among Latino poor children with U.S.-born parents. Some 82.3% of impoverished Latino children of immigrant parents have parents with a high school education or less, while the same is true for 73.1% of poor Latino children of native-born parents. By contrast, poor Latino children with native-born parents are more likely to have college-educated parents than poor Latino children with foreign-born parents—26.9% versus 17.7%.

Demographic Profiles of Poor Latino, White and Black Children

On many dimensions, Latino children in poverty differ from other children in poverty. With regard to family composition, Latino poor children and white poor children are less likely than black poor children to be in families headed by a single mother—45.4% and 46.3% versus 75.6%, respectively.

When it comes to the employment situation of parents, Latino poor children and white poor children are less likely than black poor children to be in families with an unemployed parent—18.9% and 19.5% versus 23.5%, respectively. And a greater share of Latino poor children has parents with a high school education or less (79.3%) than either poor white children (54.7%) or poor black children (62.7%).

Latino Children in Poverty—1993, 2007 and 2010

Today’s impoverished Latino children are not much different from those who lived in poverty in 1993, two years after the end of the 1990-1991 recession.2 Then, as now, nearly half of Latino poor children lived in families headed by a single mother—43.7% in 1993 versus 45.4% in 2010. However, poor Latino children today differ from those in 1993 in a few ways. In 1993, two-thirds (68.6%) of Latino poor children were of Mexican origin while in 2010 three-fourths (75.1%) were. When it comes to the regional dispersion of Latino children in poverty, the recent growth in the number of Latinos living in the South (Passel, Cohn, and Lopez, 2011) is reflected among today’s impoverished Latino children. In 1993, 26% lived in the south. By 2010, that share had increased to 38.1%.

On most other basic demographic markers, the profile of Latino poor children in 2007 and 2010 is similar. Family composition, parental educational attainment and parental nativity among Latino poor children are unchanged in 2010 relative to 2007. However, as might be expected, today’s Latino children in poverty are more likely to have an unemployed parent than Latino children in 2007—18.9% versus 11.8%.

Cite this publication: Mark Hugo Lopez and Gabriel Velasco. “Childhood Poverty Among Hispanics Sets Record, Leads Nation.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (September 28, 2011) http://www.pewhispanic.org/2011/09/28/childhood-poverty-among-hispanics-sets-record-leads-nation/, accessed on July 22, 2014.

  1. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) tracks national business cycles, and identifies the beginnings and ends of national economic expansions and recessions. According to the NBER, the last recession began in December 2007 and ended in June of 2009. For the early 1990s recession, the NBER identifies July 1990 as the beginning of that recession and March 1991 as the end. See the NBER for more on U.S. business cycle expansions and contractions: http://www.nber.org/cycles.html.