One in five American children lived in a household under the poverty line in 2014. Many more were part of families who were struggling to get by. Per a new Urban Institute research brief, 38 percent of families with children under 18 at home reported they were “finding it difficult to get by” or “just getting by” financially.
Families without children at home were slightly less likely to be in the same situation (33 percent), a finding that seemed to be driven by adults’ ages. Researcher Emma Cancian Kalish discovered that restricting the comparison to families with a survey respondent under age 65 made that difference disappear. That’s because retirement-age Americans are more wealthy, on average, than younger ones, and they are of course less likely to have kids under 18 living with them.
Families with children also had lower median earnings than those without: roughly $62,000 compared to roughly $68,000. As Cancian Dalish notes, it may be that the increase in income that men experience after having children is more than offset by the drop in income that new mothers experience amid the increasing prevalence of single-mother families.
Despite the challenges of supporting a family, respondents with children at home were more likely than others to say that they were better off in 2014 than they were five years before. Forty-seven percent of families with children expressed that view, while 27 percent said their situation was unchanged, and 27 percent said it had worsened.