Black Child Poverty 1970-2001

Melissa G. Pardue
Backgrounder, No. 1661
The Heritage Foundation
June 12, 2003

"While the number of black children living in extreme poverty is certainly a cause for concern, the overall level of child poverty, particularly among black children, has made tremendous progress:

  • For the 25 years prior to welfare reform, the percentage of black children living in poverty remained virtually unchanged.
  • Since welfare reform, the poverty rate among black children has dropped by one-fourth, falling from 41.5 percent in 1995 to 30.0 percent in 2001.
  • The black child poverty rate is at its lowest point in U.S. history.
  • Since welfare reform, over 1.2 million black children have been lifted out of poverty.
  • Since welfare reform, six black children have been made better off and lifted out of poverty for every black child whose economic condition has worsened.

As Chart 1 shows, for the 25-year period prior to welfare reform, there was little change in black child poverty. Black child poverty was actually higher in 1995 (41.5 percent) than it was in 1971 (40.4 percent).

With the enactment of welfare reform in 1996, however, black child poverty plummeted at an unprecedented rate, falling by more than a quarter to 30 percent in 2001. Over the six-year period after welfare reform, 1.2 million black children were lifted out of poverty. Despite the economic recession in 2001, the poverty rate for black children was at the lowest point in national history."

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Chart or Graph

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