Children living in married parent families are less likely to live in or near poverty than children in unmarried (either single- or cohabiting) parent families. Some policy advocacy groups use this to argue that marriage is the “greatest weapon against child poverty” because of the additional economic and human capital marriage adds to a household, even though there is no clear agreement about the precise ways in which parent marital status and childhood poverty interact. In fact, critics of the marriage-as-remedy position argue that economic risk may play a part in both child poverty and in the reluctance of parents to marry. As a result, they argue that economic – not relational – measures are the keys to reducing poverty.
However, this concentrated focus on parent relationship status overlooks another form of family structure pertinent to the well-being of poor children: the residential extended family. These structures may allow families to pool economic and human resources to care for children and ameliorate the effects of tough economic circumstances. In 2011, one in ten Virginia children lived in a residential extended family.
Figure 1 — Children Living in Residential Extended Families by Type of Family
Drawing on our recent report, New Insights on Childhood Poverty, Annie and I published an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch over the weekend. In it we discussed the consequences of limiting the conversation about childhood poverty to children with single parents:
…focusing the conversation about childhood poverty exclusively on children of single parents renders invisible the largest group of children in economic insecurity: those whose parents have already taken a trip down the aisle. It turns out that the face of economic insecurity may, in contrast to the broader narrative, be a child supported by married parents.
As detailed in our report, one in three Virginia children live in economic insecurity. Almost half, the largest group, live with married parents.
With input from Hamilton, I’ve been looking recently at how metropolitan areas change as one travels from the center to the periphery. The following charts show the percent of the population 25 and older with bachelor’s degrees. The graphs are based on concentric rings coming out from the center of downtown. I’ve included reference maps with distances and put lines on the graphs to correspond to the circles on the map.
It’s important to note that this is for adults who are 25 and older. While college towns have high numbers of educated residents and that shows up on the graphs, these numbers do not include actual undergraduate students or recent graduates.
Data for 1990 and 2000 comes from the long-form census. Data for 2012 is from the American Community Survey’s 2008-2012 5-year estimates. The census long form survey disappeared after the 2000 census, so questions that would have been on the long form (like education level) are now collected as part of the American Community Survey.
New home construction rose over 23 percent in Virginia between 2012 and 2013, according to building permit data collected by the Census Bureau and the Weldon Cooper Center. In suburban counties, the number of new homes built during the past year increased much more than in urban localities, but construction levels still remain a fraction of those seen during the early 2000s housing boom.
Homes Built Annually in the Mid Atlantic
Click on arrows at bottom of slideshow to scroll through years
May 2014 is National Foster Care Month and provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the important role of foster care in the lives of so many children and youth across the country as well as in the Commonwealth. In 2013, Governor Bob McDonnell launched his “Virginia Adopts: Campaign for 1,000” initiative to match 1,000 children in foster care to 1,000 adoptive families, the target was successfully exceeded by finding permanent homes for 1,008 children. This year, Governor Terry McAuliffe also recognized May as Foster Care Month for the Commonwealth of Virginia and emphasized that “every child and youth in foster care deserves the security and opportunity for growth that a family can provide”.
Slightly more than 13 percent of Virginia kids lived in poverty, according to the VPM. Another 18.5 percent lived beyond poverty, but below 150% of the VPM poverty thresholds. To put this into perspective, a two-adult, two-child family in Virginia with annual resources between $29,000 and $43,000 lives in near-poverty, while the same family living with resource totals below $29,000 would be considered in poverty under the VPM.*
Given the attention that marriage often receives from both pundits and policymakers as a a strategy to address childhood poverty, the paper released today focuses on the marital status of parents, comparing poverty and near-poverty across three groups: married-parent families, cohabiting-parent families, and single-parent families. Our findings reinforce some common understandings of childhood poverty while also illuminating some of its less-frequently-discussed realities. Continue reading →
One of the most fundamental things that distinguishes the Virginia Poverty Measure (VPM) from the Official Poverty Measure is who “counts” as part of a family unit. While applying a different definition of the family unit is only one aspect of improving the measure of economic (in)security, it is an important change because it lays the groundwork for an accurate account of income and expenses.
The official poverty rate is calculated by the Census Bureau using income limits applied to families depending on number and age of family members. Larger families have higher income limits–“poverty thresholds”–than do smaller families. Families headed by adults over the age of 65 years have lower income limits than families headed by younger adults. According to the Census Bureau, a family is one or more people living together and related by birth, adoption, or marriage.
To understand why broadening the definition of family unit sets up a more accurate measure of economic (in)security, consider the following situations that arise under the Official Poverty Measure: Continue reading →
Recently, Hamilton shared a great post about American ancestry. The first sentence of his post– “This is one of my favorite demographic maps.”– made me wonder: Have I ever said those words? Do I have a favorite demographic map?
This week, though, I happened across a great new map that I appreciate not only for its visual appeal and powerful presentation of data, but also because it provides great information on a topic I care a lot about: running.