One in three Virginia children lives in economic insecurity

May 22, 2014 by Meredith Gunter

Approximately one in three Virginia children live in economic insecurity, according to University of Virginia researchers in the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service's Demographics Research Group. In 2011, the most recent year of analysis, 13 percent of Virginia children lived in poverty and 18.5 percent lived in near-poverty (for example, a two-adult, two-child household with income of less than $3,600 per month).

This finding and others related to in Virginia are detailed in a report released today, the second in a series of publications based on the Virginia Poverty Measure, developed and released by Cooper Center researchers. The first such report, detailing the creation of this measure, was released in May 2013.

The Virginia Poverty Measure provides a commonwealth-specific view of by accounting for regional differences in the cost of living, as well as necessary household expenses (such as transportation and child care) and income from social safety-net programs. Inspired by the national-level Supplemental Poverty Measure, it seeks to provide a more accurate picture of the economic realities faced by Virginia families.

"Using the VPM, we not only demonstrated that Virginia childhood is somewhat more prevalent than is identified by the federal , but we also used this information to discuss national anti-poverty policies," said researcher Annie Rorem, who prepared the report with Megan Juelfs-Swanson, a U.Va. doctoral candidate in sociology. "Childhood poverty represents a real threat to the long-term economic security of Virginia and the nation in lost productivity, a reduced tax base and a greater demand for social safety net programs. The wide-ranging effects of have been estimated as an annual cost to the nation of about $500 billion, or nearly 4 percent of GDP."

The researchers considered childhood poverty across three family structures: married-parent, cohabiting-but-unmarried-parent and single-parent families. While children living in single- or cohabiting-parent families more frequently live in economic insecurity, in absolute numbers, almost half of all Virginia children in or near poverty live in a home headed by married parents.

"Focusing the conversation about childhood poverty solely on children of single parents ends up minimizing the economic struggles faced by the largest group of kids: those living with married parents," said Juelfs-Swanson. "Many anti-poverty programs are designed to target single-parent families, and often promote marriage as a means toward financial security. If we are serious when we say that no child should grow up in economic deprivation, a wider range of policy and program options that will benefit all should be considered."

Explore further: 1 in 5 children live in poverty: A new report examines effect of poverty on children

More information: The report, "New Insights on Childhood Poverty: A Deeper Look into the Results from the Virginia Poverty Measure," is available online:

Related Stories

Stanford releases new poverty index for California

October 2, 2013

The sky-high cost of housing in California is pushing many families into poverty, according to new research by Stanford's Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Public Policy Institute of California.

Recommended for you

It's raining men! Sweden sees historic gender balance shift

May 30, 2016

Famous for its efforts to put women on an equal footing with men, Sweden is experiencing a gender balance shift that has caught the country by surprise: For the first time since record-keeping began in 1749, it now has more ...

Scientists: Underground stone rings made by Neanderthals

May 25, 2016

Two mysterious stone rings found deep inside a French cave were probably built by Neanderthals about 176,500 years ago, proving that the ancient cousins of humans were capable of more complex behavior than previously thought, ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.3 / 5 (3) May 23, 2014
I am surprised its not more. As badly as the Obama economy is performing. With real unemployment at 12% and real black unemployment at 16% the highest in decades one would assume it to be higher. The weak economy is only barely buoyed by printing money and buying useless bonds by the Fed. Interest rates should have been raised 2 years ago, but propping up Obama seems to be the excuse.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.