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KWIC Indicator Narrative

Children and Youth Living Below Poverty

Data Provider: NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance


Related Indicators:

Life Area:

Economic Security


Individuals are considered to be living in poverty in those instances where their family income before taxes (i.e., gross, pre-tax, cash income) does not exceed the poverty threshold (i.e., minimum resources an individual or family of a given size needs to meet their basic needs).

The Federal and State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as well as the value of non-cash benefits such as public housing, SNAP, Medicaid or school meals are not included when calculating family income. In addition, certain costs such as taxes and work-related expenses are not subtracted from family income in determining the number of children who are poor.

Since it was developed in the early 1960s based on the cost of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economy Food Plan, the official poverty threshold has been updated annually by the change in the Consumer Price Index. In 2021, the official poverty threshold was $27,479 for a two-adult, two-child family and $21,831 for a one adult, two-child family.


The poverty rate measures the percentage of children living in families considered to have too little income to meet basic needs. Poverty in childhood is associated with a wide range of social, educational, health and future employment problems.


There is much controversy concerning where the poverty line should be drawn and what family income and resources should count in determining if a family is above or below that line. As a result, the number of children in poverty should not be considered a precise measure of how many children lack the income and resources required to meet basic needs. Instead, the poverty measure should be used to assess the relative differences between counties in the number of children near or below the minimum required to meet basic needs (although it is important to note the poverty thresholds are not adjusted for cost-of-living differences between counties), as well as to examine trends over time within counties in the number of children living with minimal economic resources.

The US Census Bureau measures the number and percentage of children in poverty using a variety of surveys and other data sources. These child poverty counts are based on the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) which are based on the American Community Survey (ACS). 


  • In 2021, the percent of persons under 18 in poverty was 18.8 percent. The highest rate of child poverty occurred in Bronx County, at 34.3 percent. The lowest rate was in Nassau County, at 6.9 percent.
  • While the child poverty rate in New York City was 9.4 percentage points higher than the remainder of the state (24.2 versus 14.8 percent, respectively), child poverty rates above the New York City combined rate occurred in predominately rural counties: Montgomery, Rockland, and Sullivan all had a rate above 24.2 percent.
  • From 2015 to 2021, the child poverty rate has dropped from 22.3 percent to 18.8 percent, a statistically significant decrease.

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