Factors Affecting International Differences in Childhood Poverty Rates

Patrick Heuveline, University of Chicago
Matthew Weinshenker, University of Chicago

Attempts to explain the unenviable U.S. leadership in childhood poverty have pointed to the lesser extent of labor market regulation, allowing for greater wage dispersion than in some other countries, and to the similarly meager extent of government redistribution through taxes and transfers. A little-explored factor that could contribute to the observed cross-national differences, however, relates to living arrangements. In this paper, we explicitly focus upon the distribution of children across a variety of types of households, and upon the poverty gradients between these types, to assess whether these factors might play a significant role in explaining the comparatively high childhood poverty rates in the U.S. We also examine whether income redistribution through taxes benefits some types of households more than others.

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Presented in Session 118: International Perspectives on Inequality