“Low-Income” Or “Low Income”? Learn If “Low Income” Is Hyphenated

Marcus Froland

Do you ever wonder whether ‘low-income’ and ‘low income’ mean the same thing? Do you think one of them may be hyphenated?

In this article, we will explore what it means to have a low income and if it should be written with a hyphen. We’ll also look at examples of low-income and some common misconceptions about the difference between ‘low-income’ and ‘low income’.

Get ready to gain a better understanding of this important topic!

Key Takeaways

  • Low income refers to households earning less than the median amount of money and struggle to afford basic necessities.
  • ‘Low income’ is generally not hyphenated and is spelled as two separate words.
  • Hyphenation of ‘low income’ may be used in specific contexts, such as when describing a specific loan or government policy, to provide clarity and distinction.
  • It is important to use accurate language when discussing low-income individuals or groups and to not unfairly judge someone’s worth based on their financial status.

What Does ‘Low Income’ Mean

Low income generally refers to households who earn less than the median amount of money. This can be determined by taking an average of all household incomes in a region or country and comparing it to individual households.

Low-income households may also have difficulties affording basic necessities such as food, clothing, housing, transportation, healthcare, and other essential items. People living in poverty are particularly vulnerable due to their limited access to resources.

In many cases, low-income families may struggle with educational opportunities due to lack of adequate funding for tuition fees or other educational costs. It is important to note that low income does not necessarily equate with poverty; however, there is often an overlap between the two concepts.

Is ‘Low Income’ Hyphenated

Generally, the answer is no. When ‘low’ and ‘income’ are used together to refer to a person or group of people who make less money than average, they are not hyphenated. This phrase is typically spelled as two separate words.

Additionally, when using the term in written communication, it should be capitalized in order to emphasize its importance.

It’s important to note that there may be certain contexts in which the phrase could be used as one word — such as when discussing a specific type of loan or government policy for those with low incomes — but this would need to be clarified within the context of that particular situation.

Why Might ‘Low Income’ Be Hyphenated

You may come across instances where ‘low income’ is hyphenated, such as when discussing a specific type of loan or government policy. This could be because the two words are used together to form an adjective that describes a particular situation, and the hyphen helps to make the meaning more clear.

Additionally, some people prefer to use hyphens in writing for emphasis or clarity. Moreover, it can help to provide a clearer distinction between two similar terms, such as low-income and low income households.

For example, ‘low-income’ would refer to those who are living under the poverty line while ‘low income’ may refer to those just above that line but still considered financially vulnerable. Therefore, using a hyphen in this context can be beneficial.

Examples of ‘Low-Income’

People who are considered to be ‘low-income’ often live below the poverty line or are financially vulnerable. Examples of people in this situation include:

  • Low wage workers: those earning minimum wage or working part-time jobs, and those without access to benefits such as paid sick leave or health insurance.

  • Recently unemployed individuals who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, yet still cannot find work.

  • Individuals whose wages have stagnated and do not keep up with the cost of living increases.

  • People on fixed incomes, such as Social Security recipients, who struggle to make ends meet due to rising costs of food and housing.

Common Misconceptions About ‘Low-Income’ Vs ‘Low Income’

Understandably, many people are confused about the difference between ‘low-income’ and ‘low income’. In reality, there is no difference between these two phrases. The correct form is to write them as one word, without a hyphen: ‘lowincome.’

This may be confusing because other words of similar composition—such as ‘high-risk’ or ‘part-time’—are typically hyphenated. However, in this case the phrase functions as an adjective rather than a noun so it should remain as one word.

When writing about low-income individuals or groups, it is important to use accurate language that avoids stereotypes or bias. It is also important to remember that financial status does not determine someone’s worth and should not be used to judge them unfairly.


You now have an understanding of what low income means, whether it is hyphenated, and why it might be. You also know some examples of when to use the hyphenated version.

Despite this knowledge, there are still many misconceptions about the difference between ‘low-income’ and ‘low income’. To ensure accuracy in your writing, always double-check to make sure you’re using the right version of the phrase.

Don’t let any confusion keep you from communicating clearly and precisely!