In this brief, authors Daniel Lichter, Scott Sanders, and Kenneth Johnson examine the economic circumstances of Hispanic infants using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey annual microdata files from 2006 through 2010. They report that a disproportionate share of Hispanic infants start life’s race behind the starting line, poor and disadvantaged—an important finding because the proportion of all U.S. births that are Hispanic is growing rapidly. The poverty risk is especially high among rural Hispanic infants and those in new destinations. Despite higher poverty risks, Hispanic infants receive less governmental assistance. High Hispanic infant poverty has immediate and long-term consequences for infants and the nation. Failing to invest in families and children now has long-term consequences because early childhood poverty tends to set into motion a series of lifecycle disadvantages (such as insufficient parenting, bad neighborhoods, underfunded schools, and poor health care) that greatly increases the likelihood of poverty in adulthood. The authors conclude that whether today’s Hispanic children will assimilate into America’s economic mainstream is an open question, but the Hispanic infants who will help reshape America’s future require public policy attention now.

Publication Date

Summer 8-12-2015


National Issue Brief No. 88


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



Copyright 2015. Carsey School of Public Policy. These materials may be used for the purposes of research, teaching, and private study. For all other uses, contact the copyright holder.





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