More kids living in high-poverty areas after Great Recession

More kids living in high-poverty areas after Great Recession

More kids living in high-poverty areas after Great Recession

 More children are living in high-poverty neighbourhoods in the US following the Great Recession - a troubling shift as children in these areas are a year behind academically, scientists say.

The Great Recession was a period of general economic decline observed in world markets during the late 2000s and early 2010s.

The research examines how neighbourhood and family poverty predict children's academic skills and classroom behaviour when they start school, and whether associations have changed over a period of 12 years that included the 2008 recession.

The researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study and examined cohorts of kindergarteners from across the US in 1998 and 2010.

The research revealed that more children whose parents were not already poor were living in high-poverty neighbourhoods following the Great Recession.

In 1998, 36 per cent of children lived in moderate-low, moderate-high and high-poverty neighbourhoods. In 2010, the number rose to 43.9 per cent.

The researchers defined a high-poverty neighbourhood as one where 40 per cent or more of residents live below the poverty line.

A moderate-high-poverty neighbourhood was defined as having poverty rates of 20-39.9 per cent; moderate-low, 14- 19.9 per cent; and low, 13.9 per cent or less.

When broken down by race, non-Hispanic white children had the largest change in terms of living in high-poverty neighbourhoods.

In 2010 they were 13.2 percentage points more likely to live in moderate-low-, moderate-high- and high-poverty neighbourhoods than in 1998.

In contrast, in 2010 non-Hispanic black children were only 4.1 percentage points more likely to live in a moderate- high-poverty neighbourhood. Hispanic children were five percentage points more likely to live in a high-poverty neighbourhood in 2010.

Researchers cautioned that these numbers do not mean that things got better for minority groups; it meant that things got worse for non-Hispanic whites.

"Although post-recession, more white kids were living in higher poverty neighbourhoods, minority children are still significantly more likely overall to live in higher poverty neighbourhoods," said Rachel Kimbro, a professor at Rice University in the US.

Researchers are uncertain whether this shift is because higher-income families moved into high-poverty neighbourhoods due to home foreclosure or other factors, or families within moderate-poverty neighbourhoods losing income and becoming poorer (thus increasing the number of poor residents).

Regardless, the results are worrying, she said, because children who live in poor neighbourhoods are, on average, a year behind academically, according to standardised math, reading and writing assessment tests of the students.

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