Child Poverty Levels Dropped By 19% In Ireland, According To Unicef Report

Ireland has placed ninth in the latest Unicef league table based on the country’s most recent income poverty rate and success in reducing child poverty.

Nonetheless, one in seven children here are still living in poverty while more than 10% experience prolonged poverty which lasts three consecutive years or more.

By comparison, the UK placed 37 out of 39 countries, coming just ahead of Turkey and Colombia.

Slovenia, Poland and Latvia were the top three countries, in recognition of their “success in reducing child income poverty over a period of general prosperity”.

Households were considered to be in poverty if their income fell below 60% before housing costs.

Households were considered to be in poverty if their income fell below 60% before housing costs

Child poverty levels in Ireland have dropped by 19% over the course of 2014-2019, while the UK saw a 10% increase in its figures, according to to the report.

Poland reduced child poverty by 38%, followed by Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania who managed to reduce rates by more than 30%.

Unicef’s report looked at high-income and upper middle-income countries in the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to assess the current state of child poverty and progress countries have made towards eliminating it in the period between 2012-14 and 2019-21.

The report also looked at children living in migrant families, finding that in the EU, 37.2% of children whose parents were migrants lived in income poverty compared with 15.6% of children whose parents were citizens of the country.

Overall, in 40 countries of the EU and OECD, poverty rates dropped by 8% over a period of about seven years. 

This means 6 million fewer children lived in poverty in 2021 than in 2014.

“The impacts of poverty on children are both persistent and damaging,” said Director of UNICEF Innocenti – Global Office of Research and Foresight, Bo Viktor Nylund.

“For most children this means that they may grow up without enough nutritious food, clothes, school supplies, or a warm place to call home. It prevents the fulfillment of rights and can lead to poor physical and mental health.”

Unicef said the consequences of poverty can last a lifetime. Children who experience poverty have less chance of completing school and earn lower wages as adults. In some countries, a person born in a deprived area is likely to live eight to nine years less than a person born in a wealthy area, according to the report.

The report also highlights huge inequalities in poverty risks. Across 38 countries with available data, children living in a lone-parent family are over three times as likely to be living in poverty as other children. Children with disabilities and from minority ethnic/racial backgrounds are also at higher-than-average risk.

To eradicate child poverty, the Report Card calls on governments and stakeholders to urgently:

  • Expand social protection for children, including child and family benefits to supplement families’ household income.
  • Ensure all children have access to quality basic services, like childcare and free education, that are essential to their well-being.
  • Create employment opportunities with adequate pay and family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave, to support parents and caregivers in balancing work and care responsibilities.
  • Ensure that there are measures adapted to the specific needs of minority groups and single-headed households, to facilitate access to social protection, key services, and decent work, and reduce inequalities.

(Source – Irish Examiner – News – Mairead Sheehy – 06/12/2023)

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