Change Indicator

Children in poverty according to the supplemental poverty measure in United States

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Why This Indicator Matters

Poverty has profound negative impacts on children’s health and well-being, particularly when they experience deep and persistent poverty. The effects of eco­nom­ic hard­ship can dis­rupt children’s cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment, phys­i­cal and men­tal health, edu­ca­tion­al suc­cess and oth­er lifelong out­comes.

While the official poverty measure is based on pre­tax cash income, the Sup­ple­men­tal Pover­ty Mea­sure (SPM) accounts for a broad­er range of fam­i­ly resources, such as non­cash ben­e­fits (e.g., food and hous­ing assistance) and tax cred­its. It also fac­tors in nec­es­sary house­hold expens­es and region­al vari­a­tion in cost of liv­ing. By account­ing for safe­ty net ben­e­fits, the SPM pro­vides an important oppor­tu­ni­ty to gauge the effec­tive­ness of gov­ern­ment anti-poverty inter­ven­tions.

Read about what the 2021 SPM data revealed.

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Definition and Source



The number and percentage of children under age 18 who are in poverty according to the supplemental poverty measure.

Data Source

PRB analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement.


Updated September 2022.

Due to an error in the tax model, all 2018 SPM estimates were revised.

A 90% confidence interval for each can be found at Children in poverty according to the supplemental poverty measure.

Last Updated

September 2023