Have High Black Imprisonment Rates Contributed to African American Child Poverty?

Pam Oliver, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Jessica Jakubowski, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Jim Yocom, University of Wisconsin at Madison

From the early 1980s through 2000, the number and the percentage of African American men in prison skyrocketed. This would be expected to have negative impacts on Black well-being, but Black child poverty generally decreased during this period. Using data from the U.S. Prison Census and the Current Population Survey for the period from 1983-1998, we examine the effects of Black imprisonment on Black household composition and Black child poverty, with special attention to the effect of state Black imprisonment rates on the presence of employed and unemployed men in the household. Declines in Black child poverty are due largely to declining fertility and fewer children per household. Net of controls, state Black male imprisonment rates appear to increase child poverty through reducing the prevalence of employed men in households, especially at low parental education levels.

  See paper

Presented in Session 141: Demography, Crime, and Incarceration