America's Successful War on Poverty

America’s Successful War on Poverty

Data: Census Bureau; Graphic: Axios Visuals

The child poverty rate in the United States plunged in 2021, hitting an all-time high and accelerating a decade-long decline. That’s the main message from the Census Bureau data released Tuesday.

Why is this important: Millions of children are not growing up in poverty today, largely because of government poverty reduction programs.

  • The most recent drop can be directly linked to the increase in the Child Tax Credit which was introduced in July 2021 but then expired at the end of this year – meaning the number of next year is expected to see a rare increase.

Between the lines: A reduction in child poverty goes hand in hand with a reduction in the number of poor parents, especially mothers.

  • By the numbers: The number of poor female heads of households has increased from 7.8 million in 2020 to 4.95 million in 2021, according to the Census Supplementary Poverty Measure, in addition to the 3.4 million children lifted out of poverty.

What they say : The report is a “children’s story, but it’s also a women’s story,” said Kate Gallagher Robbins, senior researcher at the National Partnership for Women and Families.

The big picture: Government spending on low-income children has increased steadily over the past 30 years, thanks to programs such as Medicaid, refundable tax credits, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps.

Go further: NYT’s Jason DeParle has a deep dive into the various forces that are reducing poverty in America even before the trend was accelerated by pandemic-related aid.

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