Despite its global power and unrivaled prosperity, the U.S. has the ninth-highest rate of child poverty among economically developed nations. To put that in perspective, nearly a fifth, or about 16.1 million, of all children in America live in households with incomes below the poverty line .
In fact, in the U.S., a baby is born into poverty every 32 seconds.
In Alabama, that translated to 27 percent of the 1,082,408 children in the state in 2014, living in a household with less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level, according to figures from the National Center for Children in Poverty. That’s means a family of four trying to survive on less than $24,008 in annual income, and research suggests that, on average, families need an income of about twice the federal poverty threshold to meet their basic needs.
And now, according to a new study released by the personal finance site WalletHub, the numbers aren’t looking any better for underprivileged children living in the Yellowhammer State.
Alabama is the ninth-worst state for underprivileged children in the U.S.
Throughout most of the metrics used in the study, Alabama ranked among the worst. According to WalletHub, the Yellowhammer State ranks 46th in the percentage of children living in households with below-poverty income, 48th in the percentage of children living with grandparents and no parent in the home, and a whopping 51st in infant mortality rate.
Welfare of children in Alabama (1=Best; 25=Avg.):
- 46th: percentage of children in households with below-poverty income
- 18th: percentage of maltreated children
- 48th: child food-insecurity rate
- 51st: infant mortality rate
- 46th: percentage of children in single-parent families
- 31st: ratio of children in renter-occupied to owner-occupied homes
- 48th: percentage of children living with grandparents and no parent in the home
But the state isn’t doomed to the status quo — things have the potential to turn around if the Yellowhammer State refocuses its priorities.
“Elected officials need to place their highest priority on our next generation,” said Janet Schneiderman, research associate professor in the Department of Child, Youth and Families, and in the Department of Nursing at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. “Rather than responding to the crisis at hand, elected officials need a longer view and more thoughtful planning. All programmatic responses and funding decisions need to address how best to serve families in poverty to assure that children have the best chance for developing into healthy, productive adults.”
Here’s a look at how Alabama compares to the rest of the country:
The data was collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services — Administration for Children and Families, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Center for Educational Statistics, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Equality of Opportunity Project, Kids Count — Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Feeding America.