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Children Among the Poor

By James P. Smith


This article investigates a number of issues that clarify the premises underlying the assignment of children into poverty. Conventional definitions indicate much larger poverty rates among children than among adults. Three possible theoretical reasons for this greater representation of children among the poor are explored. It is shown that the most direct mechanism--poorer parents having more children--is of little importance. Instead, the greater incidence of poverty among children is the result of (1) a labor supply effect of children's reducing family income as mothers work less and (2) the assumption of greater household 'needs' when children are present. The research presented here also demonstrates that long-term permanent poverty rates among children are much lower than the conventional yearly measures.

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