Poverty & Safety Net
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Race appears to be the greatest determinant of child poverty in Ohio

June 20, 2022
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Nearly 20 percent of Ohio children under 18 lived in poverty during 2015-2019. At 19.9 percent, poverty under the age of 18 is higher than any other age group, compared with 13.8 percent for adults 18 to 59 and 8.8 percent for seniors 60 and over. For all ages together, the poverty rate was 14.0 percent.

 Nearly 20 percent of Ohio children under 18 lived in poverty during 2015-2019.

Between 2015 and 2019 there were about 509,000 children under 18 in Ohio below the federal poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates from those years. This was the last survey cohort before the COVID pandemic disrupted data collection in 2020.

Black children experience poverty at three times the rate of white children

There were significant differences by race and ethnicity in the child poverty rate. Forty-three percent of Black children in Ohio were poor, three times the rate for white children (14.5 percent). While Black children made up 14 percent of all children for whom poverty status was determined, they made up 31 percent of poor children. One-third, about 33 percent, of Hispanic/Latino children were poor, compared to 14 percent of non-Hispanic white children.

Race and marital status impact child poverty

The federal poverty threshold is graduated by household size and number of minor children, adjusted each year for inflation. In 2019, the threshold was $13,011 for a single person, $20,598 for a single parent with two children, and $25,926 for a two-parent family with two children.

 Almost half of children in families headed by a single female were poor.

Almost half (46.9 percent) of children in families headed by a single female were poor, compared to 7.4 percent of children in married-couple families and 23.5 percent of children in families headed by a single male. For each family type, the Black poverty rate was much higher than the white rate.

Twelve percent of Black married-couple families with children were poor, compared to 5 percent of white married-couple families. For families headed by a single female, 48 percent of Black families were poor, compared to 36 percent of white families. For families headed by a single male, 32 percent of Black families were poor, compared to 16 percent of white families.

Overall child poverty rates decreased in Ohio in 2020

The Census Bureau has released experimental one-year poverty estimates from the ACS for 2020. Due to irregularities in data collection caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau cautions about using these to compare to previous years. Nevertheless, they are the best estimates available and show that poverty among Ohio children apparently declined to 423,000 or 16.8 percent in 2020. The ACS relies on household income to calculate poverty status, which in 2020 would have included Economic Impact Payments (aka stimulus) and any additional unemployment compensation for parents. These emergency cash payments during the pandemic may help explain the apparent decline in child poverty in the state.[I]

[i] New Data Shows Ohio Children at Lowest Poverty Rate in 20 Years - The Center for Community Solutions

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