The child poverty rate fell to a record low in 2016, showing us what it looks like when long-term government policies really work.
Child poverty fell from almost 30 percent in 1967 to a record low of 15.6 percent in 2016, a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows.
“The robust progress against child poverty is largely an unheralded development,” the study reads. “So is the role of government programs in driving this progress.”
The drop in child poverty is the result of government efforts to help these kids. Food assistance programs like SNAP, rental subsidies and other federal benefits that help families below the poverty line contribute to more kids eating regularly, being supported and rising out of poverty.
And this helps kids from all demographics at once. Poverty rates among black, Hispanic and non-Hispanic children were all cut in half too. Furthermore, these programs have driven record health insurance coverage for children too, thanks to the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
The economy also helps, but not by much. Before taking government benefits and tax policies into account, like the report did, child poverty improved by only two percent. While labor markets and the economy do help to improve poor children’s lives, particularly when we focus on the numbers during and after the recession, the report shows it isn’t enough.
“In short, child poverty is now at an all-time low while children’s health coverage is at an all-time high,” the report read. “The progress on both fronts over recent decades is attributable to stronger government programs.”
But funding for CHIP expired on Sunday, and, according to the New York Times, state officials are going to start notifying families that their children will lose coverage if Congress doesn’t provide more money. SNAP could face $200 billion of cuts under President Donald Trump’s new plan.
If these programs are cut, the report shows that child poverty will be on the rise again.
The numbers are hopeful, but there is still plenty of room to grow. About one in seven American children are poor, and child poverty remains more prevalent in the U.S. than almost any other western nation, according to the report.