New Report Highlights Which States Have the Most Underprivileged Kids

This heartbreaking study paints a clear picture of where the most children are forced to go without basic necessities in the United States.

U.S. poverty impact on children
Photo: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

A recent study reminded us of something alarming: The United States has the seventh highest rate of child poverty among economically developed countries. This is heartbreaking: No child deserves to go without basic necessities like food, shelter, health care and a solid education—yet countless children both in and out of America do.

A new report from WalletHub illuminated this issue. According to their findings, not all underprivileged kids suffer in a single way. The study's authors looked at child poverty statistics among all 50 states and the District of Columbia and compiled data on the distribution within the country.

One thing emerged from these findings: The state of poverty differs from state to state—which is to say, kids are deprived of different things from one place to another. So while Mississippi saw the highest instances of underprivileged kids overall, there were fewer instances of maltreatment, foster children, and child homelessness in the state as compared to others. The District of Columbia also fared poorly on the child poverty scale: The District has a higher rate of homeless children than all the other states surveyed, and infant mortality and single parent homes were larger issues there as well.

The researchers looked at a few key factors when ranking the states: Socioeconomic welfare, health and education. They graded each state on a 100-point scale (the higher the score, the worse the conditions for children). Once they had averaged each state's scores and compared them, they came up with a ranking that showed Mississippi, the District of Columbia, Nevada, New Mexico and Louisiana fared the worst. By contrast, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Iowa and Utah had the fewest instances of child poverty.

The findings really indicated how unequal the distribution of poverty is: For example, Mississippi's food insecurity rate (26.3 percent) was more than double North Dakota's (9.4 percent)—Mississippi's infant mortality rate was also more than double New Hampshire's, the state with the lowest infant death rate. Alaska's rate of children in foster care was the highest of all states (1.41 percent), and more than five times that of Virginia, the state with that fared best in this category.

You can read the entire report here—it's incredibly sad to think about what children really face, but it's important to understand that the issue of child poverty is real, and it's closer to home than many of us think.

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