Puerto Rico’s Children

The Annie E Casey Foundation has published their 2021 Kids Count Data Book, with the most current available information about U.S. states and territories. How are things in Puerto Rico?

What’s improved

Some things have gotten better since 2010 in Puerto Rico. The Kids Count Book for 2021 compares data from 2019 with 2010, and some things have improved.

  • Fewer low birth weight babies — 10% in 2019 compared with 12.6% in 2010.
  • Fewer teens who are neither working nor in school — 12% in 2019 compared with 18% in 2010.
  • Higher average income for families of married couples — $40,100 in 2019 compared with $36,500 in 2010.
  • Fewer parents without secure employment — 52% in 2019 compared with 54% in 2010.
  • The death rate for kids — 20 per 100,000 in 2019 compared with 25per 100,000 in 2010.
  • Fewer teen births — 19 per 1,000 in 2019 compared with 51 per 1,000 in 2010.

What’s worse

Some big things have gotten worse over the past decade:

  • More children living in poverty — 57% in 2019 compared with 56% in 2010.
  • Lower average income for single moms — $8,800 in 2019 compared with $9,200 in 2010.
  • Lower average incomes for grandparents living with and caring for grandchildren — $22,400 in 2019 compared with $23,800 in 2010.
  • Children living in single parent families — 63% in 2019 compared with 56% in 2010.
  • More young children in low-income working families — 40% in 2019 compared with 33% in 2010.

We can see that some health indicators show improvement, and that more people are employed. But economically, many kids are worse off now than they were a decade ago.

Is it about status?

Statehood has improved the economic position of every former territory that is now a state. There is every reason to believe that statehood will improve Puerto Rico’s economic position, too. This isn’t just about federal funding, though Puerto Rico receives much less from the federal government than states of the same size do.

Being a territory is tough.

“Statehood will provide Puerto Rico the equality, stability, access and certainty needed to attract long term investors,” the former Attorney General of Puerto Rico said at the recent status hearings. “It will increase interstate commerce by boosting consumer demand. Statehood will also help speed up debt restructuring by promoting the economic growth needed to support debt repayment and to regain access to capital markets for making responsible public investments in infrastructure that can generate more growth in the future.”

This has been true for every territory that has become a state — 32 of them. Contact your representative in Congress and make it clear that you support statehood for Puerto Rico.

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