Rich kids, poor kids: changing income inequality among american children

Daniel T. Lichter, David J. Eggebeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


This study examines trends in income inequality among American children over the 1959–89 period. We find that recent gains in family income have been distributed unevenly between rich and poor children. The proportion of children in both the wealthiest and poorest families increased during the 1980s, a pattern associated with the rise in female-headed families and changing patterns of maternal employment. Moreover, increasing racial differences in family structure have exacerbated income inequality between black and white children. Our results indicate that economic polarization among children increased substantially during the 1980s, after declining during 1959–79. The income of the poorest children declined absolutely in the 1980s, while growing rapidly among the richest children. This pattern of increasing income inequality occurred among black and white children in both married-couple and female-headed families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-780
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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