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Poverty Level - Population (birth to age 17) in Pennsylvania

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Why This Indicator Matters

The poverty level, also known as the poverty line, is the lowest level of income deemed necessary for basic living standards within a given society. This level is based on the cost of food, clothing, shelter, and utilities, which are considered to be the bare minimum resources essential for survival.[1] The Department of Health and Human Services updates the U.S. Federal Poverty Level each year based on data from the Census Bureau and produces poverty thresholds for families of varying size. These thresholds are used by the government to determine eligibility for federal, state, and local aid, such as food stamps and health insurance.[2] Poverty has been associated with several poor living conditions, including homelessness, food insecurity, inadequate childcare, lack of access to healthcare, unsafe neighborhoods, and underfunded schools.[3] Such conditions are particularly destructive for children, who often experience stunts in development, shortened life expectancy, increased likelihood of health conditions, achievement gaps, and general instability because of poverty.[4] Research strongly suggests that all families require a strong foundation with an adequate income in order to be healthy, succeed in school, contribute to the local community, and participate in the economy.[5] Measuring economic hardship and deprivation plays a critical role in creating a world where everyone has that basic foundation.

[1] Institute for Research on Poverty. (2021). How is Poverty Measured?

[2] Unite for Sight. (2021). Measuring Poverty and Poverty Scorecards.

[3] American Psychological Association. (2009). Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth.

[4] Murphey, D. & Redd, Z. (2014). 5 Ways Poverty Harms Children. Child Trends.

[5] Center on Poverty and Inequality, Georgetown Law. (2020). Measuring Poverty: Why It Matters, & What Should & Should Not Be Done About It, 1-23.

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Definition and Source



Poverty is based on income and family size.

Data Source

U.S Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey, 5-year estimates (B17024)

Last Updated

December 2023