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The Nation

A higher proportion of American children live in poverty than do children in seven other industrial democracies, including Britain and West Germany, largely because of insufficient U.S. welfare programs, according to a major study released by the Urban Institute. “The poverty of American children contrasts glaringly with the poverty of the young in every other country but Australia,” the study said. Isabel Sawhill, an economist at the Urban Institute, said: “It makes you really sit up and take notice when you realize that children in the United States have poverty rates two to three times that of other industrial nations for which we have comparable data.” The study, based on 1979 data, found that 17.1% of American children lived in families with incomes below the government’s official poverty line, while the poverty rate was only 5.1% in Sweden and Switzerland, 8.2% in West Germany and 10.7% in Britain. Experts said the relative standing of the United States would have changed little since then.


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