Who Are America’s Poor Children?

Examining Health Disparities Among Children in the United States

By the National Center for Children in Poverty

January 1, 2011


This report explores health disparities between poor and nonpoor kids in five areas: environmental health, health insurance coverage, access to health care services, healthy behaviors and health outcomes. It also spotlights real-world strategies for addressing some of these inequalities and advocates a simple end goal: Give all kids — no matter what their family finances — a positive, healthy start.       

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

When it comes to health, poor and nonpoor kids are hardly peers

Family finances aren’t the only thing dividing poor kids from their wealthier counterparts. A pair of national surveys has found that, among the have’s and have not’s, kids are sharply split when it comes to their health. Poor kids are more likely to have asthma, be overweight or obese and struggle with food insecurity. This list of risks runs on and on and makes one thing clear: In America, nonpoor kids have the advantage when it comes to growing up healthy and strong.

Findings & Stats

NCCP Whoare Americas Poor Pic1

Smoking Exposure

Poor kids are more than twice as likely as nonpoor kids to live in a household with someone who smokes.

NCCP Whoare Americas Poor Pic2

The Uninsured

Poor kids are twice as likely to lack health insurance relative to their wealthier counterparts.

NCCP Whoare Americas Poor Pic3

Different Plans for Poor Kids

Seventy-seven percent of poor kids with health insurance have public plans. 69% of nonpoor kids with health insurance have private plans.

Statements & Quotations