Child Poverty and the Changing Rural Family

Daniel T. Lichter, David J. Eggebeen

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45 Scopus citations


Abstract Our main objective is to give demographic perspective to changes since 1960 in the comparative economic circumstances of non‐metropolitan and metropolitan children. Specifically, we examine absolute and relative poverty rates using child records from the 1960, 1970, and 1980 Public Use Microdata Samples and from the 1990 March annual demographic file of the Current Population Survey. Results reveal that more than one‐in‐five nonmetropolitan children today are poor, an increasing proportion are deeply impoverished, and a growing share are living in families with incomes lagging standards typical of the average American family. Changes in family structure accounted for roughly 60 percent of the increase in nonmetropolitan child poverty during the 1980s. Positive economic effects associated with increasing female employment, rising education levels, and declining family size in nonmetropolitan areas were more than offset by the deleterious effects of changing family structure. And the persistently higher rates of nonmetropolitan than metropolitan child poverty cannot be explained away by compositional differences in parental employment patterns, educational levels, or family size. Our results suggest that recent changes in family formation and structure cannot be disassociated from the changing economic welfare of children, especially for those living in nonmetropolitan America. 1992 Rural Sociological Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-172
Number of pages22
JournalRural Sociology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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