The report documented improvements since 2000 in the infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate, high school dropout rate, and teens not in school and not working. Four areas have worsened: low-birthweight babies, children living with jobless or underemployed parents, children in poverty, and children in single-parent families.
Next year’s report, which will include post-recession data, is expected to show more children living in poverty. However, the poverty formula, developed in the ’60s, is “thoroughly outdated,” Casey concluded.
It calculates the cost of a basic grocery budget for a given family size and multiplies the total by three because food, in the ’60s, represented one-third of a typical family budget.
The formula has not been recalculated since then even though, according to Casey, food now accounts for only about one-seventh of a typical family’s budget.
The formula takes no account of child care, transportation, health insurance, and certain government benefits such as food stamps and housing vouchers. Also — except for Alaska and Hawaii — it does not reflect regional differences in the cost of living.
After years of decline, the teen birth rate rose from 2005 to 2006. However, recessions often curb the birth rate. Births are down in Silicon Valley, except for mothers over 40.