Puerto Rico’s Kids by the Numbers

Posted November 7, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog puertoricoskidsbythenumbers 2017

In the wake of Hur­ri­cane Maria, the nation­al news cycle reg­u­lar­ly fea­tures sto­ries about life in Puer­to Rico. Yet, the island is still a mys­tery to many main­land Americans.

For instance: Only 54% of Amer­i­cans sur­veyed knew that peo­ple born in Puer­to Rico are U.S. cit­i­zens, accord­ing to a recent poll by Morn­ing Con­sult, a mar­ket research company.

Below are some sta­tis­tics, cour­tesy of KIDS COUNT Data, that speak to what life was like on the island before Maria hit:

  • The island was home to 3.4 mil­lion peo­ple in 2016, mak­ing it larg­er, pop­u­la­tion-wise, than 21 U.S. states.
  • One out of every five res­i­dents was a child, and 100% of these chil­dren were native-born, mean­ing that they were U.S. cit­i­zens at birth.
  • More than half of kids on the island were liv­ing in pover­ty (56%) and liv­ing with par­ents who lacked secure employ­ment (57%). For com­par­i­son: Only 19% of kids liv­ing on the main­land were liv­ing in pover­ty at this same time.
  • More than one-third of kids in Puer­to Rico — 36% — were liv­ing in extreme pover­ty (defined as annu­al earn­ings of less than $12,170 for a fam­i­ly of two adults and two chil­dren). In the Unit­ed States, just 9% of kids fell into this category.
  • In some ways, chil­dren and youth in Puer­to Rico were far­ing bet­ter than their coun­ter­parts in the rest of the Unit­ed States. For instance: Young chil­dren were more like­ly to be in school (61% in Puer­to Rico ver­sus 47% across all 50 states) and young adults were more like­ly to be in col­lege or col­lege grad­u­ates (55% in Puer­to Rico ver­sus 48% for those liv­ing on the mainland).

Despite the new chal­lenges that Puer­to Ricans now face in the after­math of Hur­ri­cane Maria, we must work to ensure that the island’s aca­d­e­m­ic strengths per­sist. Equal­ly impor­tant: These edu­ca­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties must yield employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties that enable its young adults, par­ents and their chil­dren to succeed.

Find data on Puer­to Rico’s chil­dren on the KIDS COUNT Data Center

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