After reaching a high of 223 in 1983 the child

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After reaching a high of 22.3% in 1983, the child poverty rate dropped to 19.5% by 1988 as a result of sustained economic growth. This reduction, however, was much less than was expected and was in no way comparable to the major drop in child poverty during the economic boom of the 1950s. Furthermore, with the recession that began in late 1990, the proportion of children in poverty began to increase again and reached a level of 21.8% in 1991 (see Bianchi, 1993). These patterns of child poverty are not confined to the highly segregated inner-city neighborhoods of large metropolitan areas. Poverty rates are similar, if not higher, among nonmetropolitan chil- dren (Lichter & Eggebeen, 1992). Overall, as Bianchi noted, recent patterns indicate that “poor macroeconomic growth continues to move more chil- dren into poverty, but good macroeconomic performance seems less able to do the opposite” (1993, p. 95). This argument has by and large been sus- tained as childhood poverty dropped somewhat in the late 1990s when the economy improved, and the child poverty rate fell to 16.7% in 2001 where it remained in 2002 (Proctor & Dalaker, 2003). This drop was noteworthy but not spectacular, given the good economic times; and this rate was still much higher than the rates of most other modern societies, as we will see below. However, as the economy again faltered and we entered a deep reces- sion, the absolute child poverty rate began to climb anew and reached 19% in 2008, 20.1% in 2010, and 19.7% in 2015 (see Chau, 2009; Proctor, Semega, & Kollar, 2016; U.S. Census Bureau, 2009, 2012; Wight, Chau, & Copyright ©2018 by SAGE Publications, Inc. This work may not be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without express written permission of the publisher. Draft Proof - Do not copy, post, or distribute
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CHAPTER 11: Children, Social Problems, and Society 317 Aratani, 2010). Given the slow recovery from the recent deep recession, we cannot expect to see a significant drop in the absolute child poverty rate in United States in the near future. Why has child poverty stayed at this consistently high level of between around 15% and 20%? There are a number of interrelated reasons. Most often cited as the main cause is the dramatic structural changes in American families since the 1950s. A major increase in the divorce rate and in the number of nonmarital births (especially to young, poor women) has moved many women and children into poverty (Hernandez, 1994; Sidel, 1992). Many fathers of these children added to the problem by failing to take seri- ously the responsibility of providing for their offspring; state governments, until recently, have not passed and enforced child support laws to ensure that fathers meet their responsibilities. Some have argued that the federal govern- ment needs to become involved in the efficient collection of the $34 billion a year in unpaid child support (Skocpol & Wilson, 1994).
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