Historic Poverty Data and Race

Historic Poverty Data 1959-2006After I wrote this I was wondering about race and poverty. I made the comment that if you’re black you’re more likely to be poor and I wondered what data backed that up. So I found historical poverty tables from the U.S. census, ranging from 1959-2006. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

In 2006:

  • 12.3% of all people were below the poverty line.
  • 10.3% of whites were below the poverty line.
  • 24.2% of blacks were below the poverty line.

That’s an incredible gap. Though I suppose when you look at test score gaps and all the other divergences it all seems to go together (depressingly so). But if you dig further into the historic info it’s interesting to see the changes.

In 1959:

  • 22.4% of all people were below the poverty line.
  • 18.% of whites were below the poverty line.
  • 55.1% of blacks were below the poverty line.

Wow. We’ve come along way. Check out the graph to see the data visually. It’s interesting to see whites so closely follow the general curve while blacks have more frequent and larger changes (which is because whites make up a much larger percentage of the U.S. population and will therefore more closely follow the curve of the general population [heck, they make up most of that curve]).

I can get lost looking into numbers like this.

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