The Center for the Next Generation | 1
PROSPERITY THREATENED| ISSUE BRIEF | 6 JAN 2013
Prosperity Threatened: Perspectives on ChildhoodPoverty in California
Rey Fuentes, Ann O’Leary
, and James Barba
Californians are proud of our state, as well we should be: We live in one of the world’s most
productive agricultural zones, a hotbed for technology innovation and investment, aresurrounded by intense natural beauty, and enjoy the many benefits of being a diverse, tolerant,and multi-cultural society. But, beneath the surface lies a serious problem that threatens our future prosperity; one that we ignore at our own peril.By the official measure, 6.1million Californians are living inpoverty
more than at any pointsince the US Census startedtracking state poverty.
Californiahas the highest shear number of people living in poverty of anystate in the nation and is ranked 20
among all states in terms of the percentage of itspopulation living in official poverty.
Yet, even more alarming, using the SupplementaryPoverty Measure (SPM) developed by the Census Bureau, the poverty rate in California vaultsto the
in the nation at 23.5 percent.
Only Hawaii and the District of Columbia come closeto matching the rate of poverty in the state.
On closer inspection, the situation becomes grimmer: California’s children a
re by far the biggestvictims of increased poverty. More than one in five children in California lives in poverty; nearly
live either in poverty or perilously close to it.
And, in a surprising twist, children live inpoverty at twice the rate of seniors in the state.This is concerning not only due to the immediate effects of income deprivation, such asdecreased health outcomes, but also because poverty is mobile across generations. According
to a recent study from Columbia University’s National Ce
nter for Children in poverty, 45 percentof people who spent half their childhoods in poverty were also poor as adults.
While it is helpful to understand these overarching statistics, a deeper perspective is necessary inorder to consider the necessary p
olicy responses to ameliorate the impact of poverty on California’s
Official Poverty in California:
6.1 million (16.6%)
Supplemental Poverty in California:
8.7 million (23.5%)