This investigation was spurred by a U.S. Census Bureau report that says Tucson, with more than 1 in 5 people living in poverty, is the nation's sixth-poorest major metropolitan area.

Critics say that report, based on the 2011 American Community Survey, is flawed because it doesn't account for Tucson's unique demographics.

But crunching the data a variety of ways reveals a consistent and indisputable truth: Too many Tucsonans are poor, and children are the worst off.

Each day for the next week we'll examine a root cause of our poverty and offer solutions.

  • Day 1, Sunday: Stricter requirements mean fewer Arizonans in poverty are getting welfare.
  • Day 2, Monday: Arizona has the third-highest teen-pregnancy rate, and the teens often are from poor families.
  • Day 3, Tuesday: Low-wage jobs mean more Tucsonans are employed but still can't pay their bills.
  • Day 4, Wednesday: A lack of affordable housing here complicates efforts to create a sense of family stability.
  • Day 5, Thursday: Southern Arizona has two Indian reservations, which tend to be poorer than other areas.
  • Day 6, Friday: On any given day, thousands of Pima County children have parents in prison.
  • Day 7, Saturday: As subsidies for child care dwindle, some parents feel they're better off quitting their jobs.
  • Day 8, Sunday: Local scientists inspire young students in one of Tucson's poorest neighborhoods.

Keep up with the series at and join the discussion in reader comments for each story or on the Star's Facebook page.