New Report Shows That While U.S. Latino Children ’s Prospects Have Improved, Inequities Remain

Positive trends underway, yet the 31 percent poverty rate in 2015 for Latino children was more than double the rate for White children

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A study released today by NCLR (National Council of La Raza) and the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) highlights improvements over the last 15 years in Latino child well-being, as shown by key indicators such as high school graduation rates, juvenile incarceration, health coverage and teen pregnancy. However, the report also notes that there are still high rates of poverty, obesity and a lack of reading proficiency among Latino youth. The report, “Toward a More Equitable Future: The Trends and Challenges Facing America’s Latino Children,” provides an in-depth analysis using data from the Latino Kids Database Explorer, which offers quick and easy access to national and state-by-state statistics on 18.2 million Latino children—95 percent of whom are U.S. citizens.  

“The well-being of Latino children is at the core of all of NCLR’s work, but what this new report makes clear is how important the state of these children should be to our fellow Americans. These children are America’s future coworkers, teachers, voters, parents, consumers, taxpayers, homebuyers, entrepreneurs and leaders. Ensuring that this population reaches its full potential is essential to the success of our economy. Investing in Hispanic children today is an investment in America’s tomorrow,” stated NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía.

With the NCLR Latino Kids Database Explorer available online, researchers, policymakers and others can compare national and state data for Latinos ages 0–17 in areas such as education, demography, citizenship, family structure, housing, health, poverty and juvenile justice. State and regional variations in particular illustrate how generational trends affect Latino children’s health and educational challenges in different parts of the country.

“Reducing disparities—especially by reducing racial and ethnic gaps in poverty and education—will not only improve economic conditions for millions of Latino parents and children, but will also fuel economic growth by creating a well-qualified workforce,” said Mark Mather, Associate Vice President of U.S. Programs at PRB, and a co-author of the report.

Key findings from the new report include the following:

  • Latino children have fueled rapid demographic change. The number of young Latinos increased by nearly 50 percent between 2000 and 2015, compared with a 14-percent and 4-percent decline in the number of White and Black children, respectively. The fastest growth in the Latino child population was in South Carolina (242 percent) and Tennessee (241 percent).
  • Latino families with children have not yet recovered from the 2008 recession. The share of Latino children living in poverty (30.5 percent) in 2015 is more than double that of White children in poverty (12.5 percent). Arkansas and North Carolina had the highest shares of Latino children living in low-income families in 2014 (more than 75 percent each).
  • Hispanic graduation rates are up but investment in Latino students remains crucial. The on-time high school graduation rate for Latinos increased from 67 percent in 2004 to 78 percent in 2013. Reading proficiency in 2015 among eighth-grade Latino students (21 percent), however, was less than half the rate for their White peers (44 percent), though higher than the rate for Black students (16 percent).
  • The Latino child uninsurance rate was cut in half, yet coverage still lags behind peers. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and gains through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) led to a drop in the share of uninsured Latino children from 19 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2014. Despite these gains, the number of young Latinos who went without health insurance in 2014 (10 percent) was still twice the rate for Black and White youth (5 percent each).
  • Prospects brightened for Latino children as measured by indicators such as maternal education, youth incarceration and teen pregnancy. The number of Latino mothers who graduated from high school increased from 48 percent to 64 percent between 2000 and 2014, and the teen pregnancy rate dropped by nearly half (from 136 to 73 per 1,000 Latina teens) between 2000 and 2011. Also, fewer Latino youth were incarcerated as these numbers dropped from 309 to 173 per 100,000 youth between 2006 and 2013. 

“Understanding how Latino children have been faring over time and across states can help us ensure that our nation, schools, clinics, practitioners and legislators make the right decisions to support these children, our nation’s future, so they can thrive and develop into healthy, productive adults,” said Dr. Patricia Foxen, Deputy Director of Research at NCLR, and co-author of the report.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.