Poverty Trends, 1980-88:

Changes in Family Composition and Income Sources Among the Poor

PEMD-92-34: Published: Sep 10, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1992.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the size and composition of the poverty population, focusing on: (1) composition changes in regards to population growth, food and housing benefits, and federal taxes; (2) subgroup growth changes or poverty rates; and (3) the effect of proposed statistical adjustments on poverty rates.

GAO found that: (1) the poor were likely to live in families headed by single parents or non-elderly and non-disabled single adults; (2) single parent families increased by 25.5 percent, totalling 8.1 million, due to increasing divorce rates and unmarried couples' cohabitation practices; (3) 23 percent of poor single parents consist of single parent males and never-married women; (4) increases in never-married women living alone, consisted primarily of women aged 25-44 with high school diplomas and working full time; (5) the percentage of teenage mothers in poverty did not increase significantly; (6) single-female-headed families are 3 times more likely than single-male-headed families to be in poverty; (7) single-parent cohabitation increased by 66 percent; (8) the poverty rate for young families decreased by 13.3 percent due to family composition shifts; (9) young family heads tend to be unmarried, black, and less educated; (10) married couples' level of work effort remained constant; (11) family income from government cash and near-cash programs declined proportionately, and smaller proportions of poor families received and were removed from poverty by means-tested benefits; (12) the number of poor disabled increased slightly, and reasons for poverty included low personal earnings, low education, and less likelihood of cohabitation; (13) disabled family heads are generally less likely to be in poverty due to greater access to public and private retirement benefits and family members' supplements; (14) changes in family type and age accounted for the greatest changes, due to cohabitation of unrelated individuals and a decline in the disabled aged 55-64; and (15) child care, child support and state taxes represent 15 to 20 percent of income for the poor and near poor.

Jul 25, 2018

May 30, 2018

Apr 10, 2018

Feb 8, 2018

Nov 9, 2017

Sep 6, 2017

Jul 14, 2017

Jul 13, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here