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Friday, 23 February, 2001, 10:54 GMT
Child poverty 'high in the UK'
Child poverty
Getting employment for parents can reduce child poverty levels
The UK has the second highest child poverty rates in the European Union, says a new international study.

Italy has the highest rates of children living in below the poverty line at 19.5%, compared to 16.2% in Britain and just 2.4% in Sweden.

The highest child poverty rate by country for the entire study was found in Russia, which had 23%, where the researchers found that child nutrition was often poor and more like parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

But even though the figures in Britain are shocking they are nowhere near the rates in the USA, where the relative child poverty rate measures 20.3% and rises to a massive 26.3% in New York.

Especially in the affluent economies of the industrialised world, there are no valid excuses that would prevent governments from achieving a low child poverty rate

Koen Vleminckx, from the Catholic University of Leuven

Leading child poverty experts from all over the world were asked to produce an assessment of poverty in their country, to assess recent anti-poverty initiatives and to suggest ways to beat poverty.

Eradicate poverty

Their study "Child well-being, child poverty and child policy in modern nations," calls for a concerted effort to eradicate child poverty.

The book presents the most recent facts and insights about child poverty and its effect on the well-being of children in the richest industrialised nations and in a selection of "transient" nations.

Forty-five North American, Australian and European authors contributed to the book after holding a three day meeting in Luxembourg at the home of the Luxembourg Income Study - an international data repository and think tank.

Co-editor of the book Koen Vleminckx, from the Department of Sociology, Catholic University of Leuven, in Belgium said more money needs to be invested in child care.

"While additional research will undoubtedly be useful to policy makers, the case for the formulation, implementation and improvement of an anti-poverty strategy focused on families with children can already be made.

Tackling poverty

"The human capital argument provides a strong argument for governments to invest more in the well-being of their children.

"Especially in the affluent economies of the industrialised world, there are no valid excuses that would prevent governments from achieving a low child poverty rate," he said.

Relative poverty levels within the EU
Sweden 2.4%
Germany 8.7%
Spain 12.4%
United Kingdom 16.2%

The authors suggest a number of ways in which poverty can be tackled like promoting employment to ensure that at least one parent is employed; providing parental leave and childcare support to parents and paying child-related benefits.

Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal are pinpointed as areas where the levels of family benefits are too low.

The report authors say that children living in single parent families are more likely to be poor than other children. They call for measures to ensure that absent parents support their children as far as they are able to.

They also call for a socially orientated education policy to ensure that child poverty is not passed from generation to generation.

The relative child poverty rates reflect the number of children aged up to 18 living in a household with a disposable income less than half the average for the entire population in their country.

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See also:

15 Nov 00 | UK Politics
New fund to combat child poverty
13 Nov 00 | Scotland
New 70m fund fights child poverty
21 Mar 00 | Budget2000
Crusade to end child poverty
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