Children And Youth

More children in Essex County are living in poverty, but fewer are exposed to damaging lead and teen births have fallen dramatically. The available data paint a mixed picture of how children and youth in the county are faring.

Children are set on a trajectory through life in their earliest years, and even before they are born. A healthy pregnancy has a better chance of resulting in a healthy, full-term baby. In Essex County, most pregnant women begin prenatal care in their first trimester, which is the first step toward good birth outcomes. However, the rates vary among racial and ethnic groups, with 82% of Asian mothers, 80% of white mothers, 75% of Hispanic mothers and 74% of African American mothers beginning care early. In addition to the disparities, these rates have not been rising in Essex.

Premature babies are at higher risk for a host of problems and delays. In Essex County in 2017, 10% of births were preterm, equal to state and close to national rates. Infant mortality, the death of babies before age 1, has declined from 5.0 per 1,000 live births in 2000-04 to 4.1 in 2012-16 (rates are five-year averages).

Lead is an especially powerful environmental toxin for babies and young children that can cause permanent damage to cognitive, physical and behavioral abilities. The rate of elevated lead levels in children has been falling, down 33% from 2010 to 2017, to 3.1 per 1,000 children - though that was up from 2.8 in 2016.

Perhaps the greatest risk factor to children’s success is poverty. In 2014-18, 15% of Essex County children were living at or below the poverty level, up from 12% in 2000 but below the national rate of 20%. The cities of Lawrence and Lynn had higher rates, 30% and 24%, and poverty was greater among African American (27%) and Hispanic (31%) children.

As children grow up, some exhibit risky behavior. Teen births in Essex County have fallen more than 60% since 2000 to 12 per 1,000 in 2017. This is somewhat higher than the state rate but far below the national rate of 24. Youth arrests, in contrast, have fluctuated up and down over the past decade. In 2017, Essex County recorded 6,600 youth arrests, a rate of 85 per 10,000 youth, similar to the state rate and above a similar county, Middlesex, MA (61). About 5% of young people between 16 and 19 are not in school or working – similar to the state and below the national rate of 7%.

Bachelor's Degree or Higher by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Preterm Births Increasing
Infant Mortality Rate Maintaining
Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels Decreasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Child Abuse and Neglect Increasing
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Youth Arrests Decreasing
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Employment Maintaining
Tourism Spending Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Charitable Contributions Maintaining
Protected Land Not Applicable
Days with Good Air Quality Increasing
Beach Contamination Decreasing
Daily Water Use per Resident Decreasing
Crimes Against People Increasing
Crimes Against Property Increasing
Drug-Related Arrests Maintaining
Reports of Domestic Violence Increasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Recidivism Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Traffic Injuries and Fatalities Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Change in Total Population Increasing
Change in Population by Age/Gender Not Applicable
People 65 or Older Living Alone Decreasing
People with Disabilities Increasing
Households by Type Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Gender Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Change in Total Jobs Increasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary Increasing
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Median Earnings by Occupation by Gender Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving County for Work Not Applicable
Employer Size Not Applicable
Self-Employment Revenue Decreasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Not Applicable
Female Enrollment in School Not Applicable
Chronically Absent Students Increasing
Per-Student Spending Increasing
Bullying Maintaining
Student Performance on Grade 3 Reading Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math by Student Group Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 10 English Language Arts Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 10 Math Not Applicable
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Income in Relation to Poverty Level Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage Rate by Household Type Not Applicable
Households Receiving Temporary Assistance Maintaining
Households Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Earned Income Tax Credit Participation Maintaining
Economically Disadvantaged Students Increasing
Median Home Value Increasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Homeownership Rates Maintaining
Homeownership Rates by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeless Persons Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Medical Care Expenses Increasing
Prevalence of Children with Asthma Maintaining
Prevalence of Overweight Children Decreasing
Prevalence of Overweight Adults Not Applicable
Diabetes Incidence Decreasing
Chronic Disease Among Older Adults Increasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Cancer Mortality Rate Decreasing
Heart Disease Mortality Rate Decreasing
Mortality Rate Decreasing
People who Smoke Not Applicable
Use of Illegal Drugs Not Applicable
Youth Use of Illegal Drugs Not Applicable
Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Not Applicable
Drug Overdose Mortality Rate Increasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Suicide Rate Maintaining