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percent of the poverty population were under age 15, and 43 percent were under 20 years old in 1985. (See figure 1.) In contrast, only 20 percent of nonpoor persons were children under age 15 and only 27 percent were under age 20. A somewhat smaller proportion of the poor than the nonpoor was in the group between 25 and 69 years of age, and comparable proportions of poor and nonpoor were 70 years or older.
Poverty rates tended to decrease up to the 45-to-54year-old age group but increased thereafter. For example, the poverty rate in 1985 was 23.1 percent for children under 5 years, 17.3 percent for 15- to 19-yearolds, 10.4 percent for 30 to 34-year-olds, and 8.4 percent for 45 to 54-year-olds. The rate was 9.9 percent for 55 to 59-year-olds and increased to 18.7 percent for persons 85 years of age and older. (See table B.) Historically, the poverty rate for persons 65 years and older has been higher than that for the total population, but this relationship reversed in 1983, and in both 1984 and 1985, the poverty rate was about 12.5 percent for the elderly, the lowest estimates yet recorded for that age group. There was a considerable difference, however, within subgroups of the elderly population, with persons 65 to 69 years old having a poverty rate only about one-half of that for persons 85 years and over (9.4 percent versus 18.7 percent in 1985). The poverty rate for the nonelderly was 14.1 percent in 1985.
Race and Hispanic origin. Although the Black and other races populations are disproportionately represented among the poor, 69 percent of poor persons in 1985 were White (figure 2). This figure has actually risen slightly since 1979, when it was 66 percent. Whites accounted for 81 percent of the net increase in the poverty population between 1979 and 1985. Part of this recent rise in the proportion of the poverty population that is White may be attributable to an increase in the proportion of the poor who are Hispanic. Though Hispanics may be of any race, 97 percent of persons of Hispanic origin were reported as White in the March 1986 CPS About 16 percent of the poor in 1985 were Hispanic, a historic high, up from 11 percent of the poor in 1979 Persons of Hispanic origin accounted for 6 percent of the nonpoor in 1985. The proportion of the Hispanic poor who are recent immigrants cannot be determined from existing tabulations. The 89 million poor Blacks in 1985 represented 27 percent of the poverty population, down from the 31 percent they represented in 1979 but still a disproportionate figure as compared with their share of the population. (They accounted for 10 percent of the nonpoor in 1985) Persons of other races (Asians, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians) represented the remaining 4 percent of the poverty population (1 3 million persons), this group constituted 3 percent of the nonpoor.
In 1985, the poverty rate was 11.4 percent for Whites, 31.3 percent for Blacks, and 17.8 percent for the population of other races. The poverty rate for Hispanics was 29.0 percent in 1985. Though this latter rate remains below that for Blacks (at the 90-percent confidence level), the percentage point difference in poverty rates for the Hispanic and Black populations has narrowed in the 1980's, from a 9.2 percentage point gap in 1979 to the 1985 figure of 2 3 percentage points. Within the Hispanic community there is consid erable variation in poverty rates. In 1985, the poverty rate was, for example, 43 3 percent for Hispanics who reported their origin as Puerto Rican, 28 8 percent for those of Mexican origin, and 22.1 percent for other Hispanic persons (principally composed of persons of Cuban, and Central and South American origin).
Regional distribution of the poor. There have been recent increases in the proportion of the population above the poverty level living in the South and West, reflecting the fact that the Nation's population growth as a whole has been concentrated in those regions In the 1980's, about half of the growth in these regions has been due to net inmigration at the expense of the Northeast and Midwest. The regional distribution of the poor, which historically has been disproportionately concentrated in the South, moved opposite that of the nonpoor between 1969 and 1985, with the proportion of the poverty population living in the South decreasing from 46 percent to 39 percent. However the poor are still more concentrated in the South than the nonpoor the proportion of the nonpoor living in the South w 1
This report was prepared in Population Division by Mark S. Littman, under the general direction of John M. McNeil, Chief, Poverty and Wealth Statistics Branch. Typing and clerical assistance was provided by Mary Kisner, Diana J. Lewis, Anna H. Podany, and Eleanor F. Baugher. Robert Bennefield prepared the historical detailed tables; Thelma N. Varhach, Demographic Survey Division, was responsible for production of the detailed tables for 1985. Sampling review was conducted by Cathy Mazur of the Statistical Methods Division. Overall direction was provided by Gordon W. Green, Jr., Assistant Division Chief (Socioeconomic Statistics Programs), Population Division.
Data collection was conducted by Bureau of the Census interviewers, under the overall direction of Stanley D. Matchett, Chief, Field Division. Publication planning, design, composition, and printing planning was provided by the staff of Publications Services Division, Walter C. Odom, Chief. Publication editing and coordination was provided by Paula Coupe.
This report is dedicated to the memory of Arno I. Winard, who guided the compilation of poverty statistics during his career at the Bureau of the Census (1958 to 1986).
BUREAU OF THE CENSUS
William P. Butz, Associate Director for
U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 158,
For sale by Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC. 20402.
Trends in the number of poor .......
Demographic and social characteristics of the poor
Collection and limitations of poverty data....
1. Distribution of the population above and below the poverty level, by age: 1985 .... Distribution of the population above and below the poverty level, by race and Hispanic origin: 1985 .....
Regional distribution of the population, by poverty status: 1985.......
Number of persons below the poverty level and poverty rate, by race and Hispanic
Trends in Poverty Population
Poverty status of persons, by family relationship, race and Hispanic origin: 1959 to
Work experience in 1985 of female householder with related children under 6, by
Age distribution of persons, by poverty status: 1985
Distribution of the population, by type of residence and region: 1985
Number of families below the poverty level and poverty rate: 1959 to 1985.
Poverty status of persons, by age, race and Hispanic Origin: 1959 to 1985..........
Ratio of income to poverty level in 1985-persons, by family status, sex of house-
Farm-nonfarm residence and region-poverty status in 1985 of persons, by family
Age and sex-poverty status in 1985 of persons, by family relationship, type of