Children & Youth
Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2013-17


Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2013-17

What does this measure?

The number of children under 18 within a racial or ethnic group who live below the federally defined poverty line, expressed as a percentage of all children under 18 with the same racial or ethnic group. Poverty thresholds vary by family composition and year. In 2017, the threshold for a four-person family with two children was $24,858.

Why is this important?

Children raised in impoverished environments are at higher risk for a wide variety of health and social problems, including poor performance in school. The challenges they face in childhood can diminish their chances for successful adult lives, Studies have found that the stress of living in poverty can cause biological changes in children that can lead to long-term health problems. Throughout the nation, racial disparities across many indicators of well-being (including poverty rates) are persistent, troubling and in need of attention.

How is our county performing?

In 2013-17, the poverty rate for Hispanic (44%) and African American (33%) children in Berks County was much higher than among white and Asian children (16% and 15%, respectively). These rates have increased since 2000 for white and Hispanic children by 8 and 2 percentage points respectively.

Disparities were higher in the central region of the county in 2013-17 compared to the county as a whole. However, poverty rates were higher for all groups, including African-American (38%), Hispanic (50%), Asian (28%) and white (42%) children. In the City of Reading, 41% of Asian American, 45% of African-American, 53% of Hispanic and 51% of white children lived in poverty in 2013-17. Since 2000, this represented an increase of 6 percentage points for Hispanic children, 7 points for African-American children, 16 points for Asian American children and 23 points for white children.

Berks County's child poverty rate for Hispanic children was 5 percentage points higher than Pennsylvania and 14 points higher than the nation. For African-American children, the county's poverty rate was slightly lower than the state (38%) and the nation (36%). While all neighboring counties had racial and ethnic disparities in 2013-17 Montgomery County had lower poverty rates for Hispanic and African-American children than Berks County. African American and Asian American populations in Lebanon County were too small to make accurate comparisons.

Notes about the data

For additional detail as to how the Berks County regions are defined and which boroughs and townships are included in each, see the About Us page.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Poverty status is not reported for people in institutions, including college dormitories and military barracks, and people in living situations without conventional housing. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people may show up in both a racial and ethnic group.

The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined 5 years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with three asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census. Data for this indicator are released annually in December.

Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2013-17
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
Pennsylvania14%38%39%14%
Berks County15%****33%44%16%
Berks County Regions
Central28%******38%**50%42%
Northeast0%******0%******39%******11%**
South5%******18%******22%**8%
Southeast0%******41%******14%******5%****
West45%******9%******12%******10%**
Reading city41%******45%53%51%
Berks County Peers
Chester County2%******33%25%7%
Lancaster County11%****40%33%12%
Lebanon County15%******21%******35%11%
Lehigh County10%****30%38%16%
Montgomery County7%**17%19%6%
Schuylkill County38%******54%****43%15%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




Number of Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2013-17
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
Pennsylvania13,218134,022114,396268,495
Berks County187****1,93013,23311,287
Berks County Regions
Central53******1,419**11,8106,985
Northeast0******0******390******1,133**
South40******222******852**1,504
Southeast0******262******50******528****
West69******27******131******1,152**
Reading city14******1,32011,1816,014
Berks County Peers
Chester County112******2,0933,2986,351
Lancaster County299****2,8906,29113,198
Lebanon County68******174******2,2702,602
Lehigh County280****2,25710,8718,937
Montgomery County943**2,9992,6287,520
Schuylkill County72******243****8463,873

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2000
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
Pennsylvania17%36%38%10%
Berks County15%33%42%8%
Berks County Regions
Central24%38%46%20%
Northeast0%0%10%5%
South10%16%16%4%
Southeast0%9%0%4%
West0%0%18%7%
Reading city25%38%47%28%
Berks County Peers
Chester County5%23%16%4%
Lancaster County7%34%34%9%
Lebanon County16%53%37%9%
Lehigh County8%40%39%9%
Montgomery County8%19%16%3%
Schuylkill County10%25%25%12%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




Number of Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2000
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
Pennsylvania9,115129,20454,030234,932
Berks County1471,3316,2635,888
Berks County Regions
Central1081,2326,0403,213
Northeast0030617
South3389143739
Southeast0100425
West0048865
Reading city1081,2255,9783,028
Berks County Peers
Chester County1141,5578593,860
Lancaster County1441,4943,5629,435
Lebanon County601808902,288
Lehigh County1501,4904,9145,279
Montgomery County5862,6977654,576
Schuylkill County1179893,570

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




INDICATORS TREND | BERKS COUNTY