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Why Federal Policymakers Should be Talking About Children

Author: Margery Turner

| Posted: October 13th, 2011

New Census data reveal that almost half of America’s children today are black, Latino, or Asian – very different from the predominantly white population 50 and older.

America’s Children Much More Diverse than Older Generations

Source: 2010 Census data, adapted from William H. Frey

These kids are our future. We need them to grow up healthy, smart, and civically engaged so they can fuel our economy, support us in our old age, buy our homes, and govern our country. But we’re not paying enough attention to the challenges facing minority kids – challenges that undermine their life-chances and our collective future.

Poverty rates are climbing for all kids, but they’re especially high for minority children. As the latest numbers show, almost two of every five black children and more than a third of Latino kids are poor, compared to 12 percent of white kids. The evidence is undeniable that persistent poverty during childhood reduces employment and earnings in adulthood. And my colleague, Harry Holzer, estimates that a 1-percentage point increase in child poverty might cost the economy $28 billion a year in the future.

Black and Latino kids are also much more likely than whites to live in poor neighborhoods, where crime rates are high. A growing body of research shows that children exposed to violence and other severe stresses suffer long-lasting physiological damage that impairs healthy emotional and intellectual development.

Minority children suffer poorer health than their white peers and are less likely to get good medical care. And many public schools aren’t serving minority children well. In school districts across the country, the gaps between white and minority test scores, graduation rates, and college access remain stubbornly high.

It doesn’t take a sophisticated forecasting model to know that today’s kids will be tomorrow’s workers, business owners, and civic leaders. Why aren’t policymakers and political leaders talking about the risks confronting minority children today and the investments in employment, education, health, and neighborhoods that could improve their long-term prospects and our country’s future prosperity?

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Filed under: Government, People
1 Comment »

One Comment on “Why Federal Policymakers Should be Talking About Children”

  1. 1 L. Y. said at 1:55 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    The answer to why they aren’t focusing on minority children is because they are too caught up in the moment. They are not forward thinking and thus truly jeopardizing the futures of these children and the US on the whole. For example, drugs and gangs they should have been squashed at the beginning instead of ignored with hopes they would go away on their own. Instead they are everywhere. Children who are being left behind because of “No Child Left Behind” will not be employable, thus the country will be doomed to take care of them. This will eliminate the middle class, and raise the lower class. We don’t take care of our lower class as it is. As people are not qualified to even work for minimum wage, the cycle will be perpetuated when they have children who will grow up just as they did. Then society will blame it on them, like they always do. Step up and do your part now before it gets worse.


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