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Native children living in poor, single-parent homes
Friday, March 19, 2004

American Indian and Alaska Native children in single-parent homes are more likely to live in poverty than any other racial or ethnic group, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week.

Of Native American children in mother-only homes, 50 percent lived below the poverty level in 1999. This was the highest poverty rate among all minority groups, and it was nearly twice the rate for White children in similar homes.

Of Native children in father-only homes, 32.8 percent lived below the poverty level in 1999. Again, this was the highest rate among minorities and it was more than twice the rate for White children in similar homes.

Poverty was less prevalent for American Indian and Alaska Native children in married couple homes. Yet even in these homes, 18.5 percent lived below the poverty level, a rate surpassed only by Hispanic children. But it was also more than four times the poverty rate for White children.

And for Native children living with neither parent, 38.3 percent lived below poverty, a rate comparable to African-American and Hispanic children in similar households.

The data was found in "Children and the Households They Live In: 2000," a special report released by the Census Bureau on Tuesday. The report examined family and living patterns for American children.

Of the nearly 72 million children in the United States in 2000, 1.1 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native. According to the report, large numbers of Native children lived in homes with someone other than their parents -- a grandparent, foster parent or other relative, for example

"There were notably high concentrations along the Mississippi Valley and in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Alaska which had relatively high proportions of American Indian and Alaska Native populations," the report said. "Cultural traditions about living arrangements and extended families may partly explain why a large percentage of children in these areas lived in households maintained by people other than their parents."

Of the 790,000 Native children in 2000, nearly half of them lived in a married couple home, according to the report. Another 30 percent lived in a mother-only homes while another 10 percent lived in father-only homes. Another 10 percent lived with neither parent.

Putting these numbers with the poverty levels, this meant that nearly a third of all American Indian and Alaska Native children lived in poverty. Of this amount, about 73,000 were in married couple homes, about 118,500 were in mother-only homes, about 26,000 were in father-only homes and about 30,000 lived with neither parent.

Of all Native households, with and without children, 25 percent live in poverty, according to Census Bureau data.

Get the Report:
Children and the Households They Live In: 2000 (March 2004)

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Census: Native Americans among poorest (9/27)

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