Report: 62% Of Black Infants Live In Poverty

Report: 62% Of Black Infants Live In Poverty

One-fifth of Black infants and toddlers lived in deep poverty, which represents 50% of the federal poverty level, well above the national rate of 18.6%.

In 2021, approximately three in five Black infants and toddlers lived in households with low income, according to the 2023 State of Babies Yearbook. 

What’s more troubling is that one-fifth of all Black infants and toddlers lived in deep poverty, which represents 50% of the federal poverty level. This data is higher than the national rate of 18.6% of all babies living in poverty.

“These poverty and income levels are concerning, as babies’ rapid brain development during their early years makes them particularly vulnerable to the material hardship and family stress that accompany poverty, with long-term consequences for later success in school and employment,” the report explained.

In 2022, the Black population was overrepresented in poverty. Approximately 40% of Black birthing people experienced poverty before giving birth and around the time of birth. These barriers to proper maternal healthcare and material resources are largely part rooted in systemic racism that affects wages and employment patterns and more.

“Black women have the highest labor force participation out of all females in the United States. Still, even so, there continue to be disparities in their pay, promotion, and general recognition,” The Mom Project reported.

As for Black moms who work outside the home, the labor force participation rate is highest among among white moms at 76%. But research makes clear that Black women and mothers disproportionately face risks associated with economic insecurity, including unstable housing, unsafe neighborhoods and a lack of resources. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half of all Americans are projected to be people of color by 2044.

The Yearbook calls for policies to ensure a strong foundation in maternal health, infant and early childhood mental health, childcare, housing, and economic security. 

Black women in the labor force

Black women carry a lot of economic responsibility. On average, Black moms work more hours in a year than their white counterparts. Despite the extra hours worked, the advanced degrees, and the evident dedication, the impact of Black women and moms is overlooked. Data shows that Black women earn less money, are underrepresented in leadership, and don’t feel valued at work. These circumstances have, in turn, proven detrimental to mental and maternal health, including the child’s well-being beginning prenatally.

Geography matters

The state where babies are born and spend their first years is an indicator of whether or not they have access to equitable resources are accessible. Low-income women and birthing people are overrepresented in counties considered “maternity care deserts.” In fact, nearly 25% of babies living in rural areas are more likely to experience poverty, with a staggering 13% living in deep poverty. In 2019, more than 25% of Black children were impoverished in 39 states and the District of Columbia. For instance, Black children are more likely than white children to reside in states where benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are at its lowest.

Maternal and infant health

The Black maternal health crisis is a pressing issue. People of color are more like to have interactions with health care providers that are “unsupportive” and “disempowering.” The Yearbook data revealed significant racial disparities in prenatal care and other indicators of maternal health such as preterm births and low birthweight. Data show that the lack of access to proper care resulted in approximately 14% of Black preterm births and 9% of Black people starting prenatal care late. 

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