Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Child Poverty is Up: More news on what happens when you have fewer traditional families

Child poverty is in the news again, this time because of a newly-released report from Kids Count. As the Louisville Courier-Journal put it:
The number of children living in poverty has increased in Kentucky and Indiana, following a national trend of high unemployment and growing poverty in families, according to the latest “Kid Count,’’ an annual state-by-state survey of child well-being by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The poverty rate for children is listed at 23 percent in Kentucky, up from 22 percent last year. That is overstated, of course, since Kids Count relies on U. S. Census data which only takes account of a family's annual income, not it's total assets.

The Census data is notoriously unreliable as an indicator of poverty, since the average family living "in poverty" is actually not all that bad off. Almost half own their own air-conditioned home and have at least two color televisions; over two-thirds own their own car (a third have two); and the majority of the "impoverished" have VCR or DVD, have cable or satellite reception, and have a microwave oven and automatic dishwasher.

So let's think of this in some perspective.

But the interesting thing about the data is that, along with the "poverty" rate, the percentage of children growing up in one-parent homes is continuing to rise. Gee, I wonder if those two things have something to do with each other.

In fact, the two chief predictors of whether a person will go on welfare is whether he or she (usually she) has had a baby out of wedlock or is divorced.

Go figure.

But let's not get all excited and do something crazy like have our schools and other cultural institutions start to uphold the traditional family as some kind of ideal or anything (Not like there's really any danger of that happening).

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