Skip to content
CityLab
Economy

How Some Kids Escape Poverty

Just 16 percent of children who grow up in poverty manage to become economically successful adults. How do they do it?
relates to How Some Kids Escape Poverty
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

More than 1 in 10 American children spend more than half their childhood in poverty—that’s a whopping nine million kids. Most of these children, the majority of whom are African American, are trapped in a cycle of deprivation: As young adults, they’re unlikely to be in school or working, and their children will likely follow a similar path. But a small percentage manage to escape their circumstances and become economically successful.

Researchers with the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty—an initiative supported by the Urban Institute—set out to determine what factors help make it possible for this group to succeed. Their report, published yesterday, is based on data from the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which has tracked 18,000 individuals and their descendants since 1968, looking at such areas as employment, income, health, marriage, and child development.