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Health Indicator Report of New Mexico Population - Poverty Among Children Under Age 5

Childhood poverty has especially harmful effects on healthy development and well-being, including developmental delays and infant mortality. Children born into poverty are less likely to have regular health care, proper nutrition, and opportunities for mental stimulation and enrichment. These factors are especially important in the very earliest years of life, because childrens' brain growth and skill development starts at early infancy. Studies document that children who live in low-income and under-educated families start to score lower on standardized developmental tests by as early as eighteen months of age. Such early setbacks are difficult to overcome. Due to their size, physiology, and behavior, young children are also disproportionately vulnerable to many health hazards. For example, the risk factors for childhood lead poisoning include living in a family with a poverty-level income. Studies have documented low blood-lead testing rates among children living in households with this risk factor. This measure identifies counties with higher percentages of children who therefore may be at increased risk for lead poisoning. When compared with lead-testing rates by county, populations with inadequate lead testing of young at-risk children may be identified in order to improve testing in these regions.

Percentage of Children Under Age 5 Living in Poverty by County, New Mexico, 2013-2017


This measure of child poverty includes all children aged 0 to 4 who are related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption (except a child who is the spouse of the householder). The householder is the person (or one of the people) who owns or rents (maintains) the housing unit. Poverty status is determined by comparing household income to poverty thresholds (income cutoffs). Thresholds vary by family size and number of children under 18 in the household. For instance, the poverty level for a family of four in 2019 is $25,750.   The small-area percentages in poverty derive from the American Community Survey (ACS) 5-Year Estimates. 95% confidence intervals were calculated from the ACS 90% confidence intervals. The small-area and statewide population denominators derive from from the UNM GPS population estimates (using the mid-point year population estimates). The statewide and national percentages and the national population estimates derive from SAIPE estimates. Statewide totals and percentages will differ between estimates made using U.S. Census SAIPE and ACS values, due to rounding differences and dissimilar methodologies.

Data Sources

  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
  • New Mexico Population Estimates: University of New Mexico, Geospatial and Population Studies (GPS) Program,
  • U.S. Census Bureau, Data Integration Division, Small Area Estimates Branch, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE).

Data Interpretation Issues

The U.S. Poverty Guidelines are published in January of each year, and may be found online at Beginning with the year 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau switched from the Current Population Survey as a data source for these data to the American Community Survey. Population size estimates from the UNM Geospatial and Population Studies (GPS) program are considered more accurate for New Mexico. For this indicator report, the poverty percentage estimates from the 5-Year American Community Survey (ACS) were applied to the GPS population estimates to calculate counts and population size.


The estimated number and percentage of children under age 5 living in households with income below the federal poverty level.


Estimated number of children age 4 and under living in households whose income is below 100% of the federal poverty level as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Poverty status is determined by comparing household income to poverty thresholds (income cutoffs). Thresholds vary by family size and number of children under 18 in the household, and are updated in January of each year. For instance, the poverty level for a family of four in 2015 was $24,250. The U.S. Poverty Guidelines may be found at the [ Health and Human Services website].


The estimated number of children age 4 and under in the population.

How Are We Doing?

New Mexico is one of the most impoverished states in the nation, ranking near the bottom of all states in the percent of its young children living in poverty (49th in both the 2013 and 2014 Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT Data Books).

Page Content Updated On 05/02/2019, Published on 05/02/2019
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Content updated: Thu, 2 May 2019 16:28:38 MDT