Blog: Education by the Numbers

Rich kid, poor kid, fewer middle class

David Johnson, chief of the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division at the U.S. Census Bureau, points out that the latest data on U.S. children, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-being released on July 8, 2013, shows growing concentrations of rich and poor.

“We see an increase in the children living at the high end and an increase of children living at the low end, with a shrinking of children living in the middle of the income distribution,” said Dr. Johnson on a July 8, 2013 podcast.

The chart below shows that about 10 percent of kids live in extreme poverty, below 50 percent of the poverty threshold. But 12 percent of children live above 600 percent of the poverty threshold. That is almost double the rate of what it was in 1991. To make this a bit more concrete, we’re talking about a family of four — two parents, two kids — that make more than 136,866 a year. ($22,811*600/100. Here’s a link to the poverty thresholds).

It is interesting to consider what the implications for education are. More demand for fancy private schools? More public schools packed with very poor kids? A growing achievement gap?

Indicator Econ1.B: Percentage of children ages 0–17 by family income relative to the poverty line, 1980–2011

NOTE: The graph shows income categories derived from the ratio of a family’s income to the family’s poverty threshold. In 2011, the poverty threshold for a family of four with two children was $22,811. For example, a family of four with two children would be living below 50 percent of the poverty threshold if their income was less than $11,406 (50 percent of $22,811). If the same family’s income was at least $22,811 but less than $45,622 the family would be living at 100–199 percent of the poverty threshold.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements.