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Abstract

A complex of interrelated factors including minority status, poverty, education, health status, and other factors determine the general welfare of children in America, particularly in heavily diverse states such as Texas. Although racial/ethnic status is clearly only a concomitant factor in that determination it is a factor for which future projections are available and for which the relationships with the other factors in the complex can be assessed. After examining the nature of the interrelationships between these factors we utilize direct standardization techniques to examine how the future diversification of the United States and Texas will affect the number of children in poverty, the educational status of the householders in households in which children in poverty live and the health status of children in 2040 assuming that the current relationships between minority status and these socioeconomic factors continue into the future. In the results of the analyses, data are compared with the total population of the United States and Texas in 2040 assumed in the first simulation scenario, to have the race/ethnicity characteristics of 2008 and in the second those projected for 2040 by the U.S. Census Bureau for the nation and by the Texas State Data Center for Texas in 2040. The results show that the diversification of the population could increase the number of children in poverty in the United States by nearly 1.8 million more than would occur with the lower levels of diversification evident in 2008. In addition, poverty would become increasingly concentrated among minority children with minority children accounting for 76.2 percent of all children in poverty by 2040 and with Hispanic children accounting for nearly half of the children in poverty by 2040. Results for educational attainment show an increasing concentration of minority children in households with householders with very low levels of education such that by 2040, 85.2 percent of the increase in the number of children in poverty would be in households with a householder with less than a high school level of education. Finally, the results related to several health status factors show that children in poverty will have a higher prevalence of nearly all health conditions. For example, the number of children with untreated dental conditions could increase to more than 4 million in the United States and to nearly 500,000 in Texas. The results clearly show that improving the welfare of children in America will require concerted efforts to change the poverty, educational, and health status characteristics associated with minority status and particularly Hispanic status. Failing to do so will lead to a future in which America’s children are increasingly impoverished, more poorly educated, and less healthy and which, as a result, is an America with a more tentative future.

Responses to this Article:

Luisa Franzini, Distressing Projections for the Health of American Children: Are They Inevitable? (September 2010)