Policy Highlights from "Lessons from a Historic Decline in Child Poverty"

This policy brief summarizes for federal, state, and local officials the key findings and policy recommendations from Child Trends’ September 2022 report, Lessons from a Historic Decline in Child Poverty.[1]

In Lessons from a Historic Decline in Child Poverty, researchers found that the United States experienced a historic 59 percent decline in child poverty from 1993 to 2019. The rate of child poverty, as measured by the federal Supplemental Poverty Measure, fell from one in four children in the 1990s to one in 10 a quarter century later. Researchers explored a range of societal shifts to identify the factors contributing to the decrease in child poverty.

Major economic, demographic, and public policy changes occurred from 1993 through 2019. This 26-year period generally saw economic growth—specifically growth in gross domestic product per capita (GDP; adjusted for inflation), median household income, and state minimum wages. Additionally, unemployment decreased over this period, and single mothers’ labor force participation grew. The nation saw increases in the proportion of adults with at least a high school diploma and a minimal increase in the number of children living in two-parent households. Teen birth rates declined dramatically, by 72 percent. Meanwhile, the U.S. population shifted to include a higher share of children from immigrant families. Shifts in U.S. public policy were equally dramatic, with large increases in federal spending on social safety net programs, especially on refundable tax credits focused on working families with children. At the same time, federal policy shifted away from out-of-work cash assistance and introduced policies excluding immigrants from social safety net programs.



Suggested Citation

Ryberg, R., Thomson, D., Harper, K., & Akande, K. (2022). Policy highlights from “Lessons From a Historic Decline in Child Poverty”. Child Trends. https://doi.org/10.56417/6051o950v