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Understanding Poverty Declines among Immigrants and Their Children in the United States
Policy Briefs
May 2023

Understanding Poverty Declines among Immigrants and Their Children in the United States

The United States has seen a historic decline in poverty in recent years. Poverty rates for immigrants, as for the U.S. population overall, declined sharply from 2009 through 2019, the decade following the Great Recession of 2007–09 and preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. And despite the economic upheaval brought on by the pandemic, poverty rates continued to fall between 2019 and 2021, as federal, state, and local governments introduced aid programs to blunt the economic impacts of the public-health crisis. Particularly steep declines in poverty could be seen among the nation’s children.

This issue brief looks at how poverty rates changed among immigrants and their children overall and by citizenship status and race/ethnicity, both before and during the pandemic. It draws on MPI analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement, using the Supplemental Poverty Measure.

The analysis finds that the patterns of falling poverty rates documented among the total U.S. population can also be seen among the nation’s immigrants, and that these findings hold for those who are naturalized and noncitizen alike and for the foreign born across racial and ethnic categories. The brief also discusses various factors that have contributed to these declines in general and child poverty.

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction

2  Poverty Trends by Citizenship
A. The Pre-Pandemic Period, 2009–19
B. Changes during the Pandemic, 2020–21
C. Poverty by Race and Ethnicity

3  Child Poverty Trends

4  Conclusion