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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

New UNICEF report finds millions of children living in poverty in world’s richest countries

Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, has hosted the launch of a new report from international charity UNICEF at the European Parliament, which reveals the shocking extent of child poverty and deprivation in the world’s richest countries [1].

The UNICEF Report Card 10 confirms that some 13 million children in the EU lack basic items necessary for their development – such as three nutritious meals a day, a quiet place to do homework, education books at home, or an internet connection – and that 30 million children across 35 countries with developed economies live in poverty.

The study, which looks at child poverty and deprivation across the developing world, comparing and ranking countries’ performances, also proves that child poverty in these countries is not inevitable but policy susceptible – and that some countries are doing much better than others at protecting their most vulnerable children [2].

For example, Denmark and Sweden have much lower levels of child deprivation than Germany or Belgium, despite all four countries having similar levels of economic development.  UNICEF also estimates that the impact of the economic downturn in the UK will overturn the progress that has been made in bringing down child poverty rates, meaning that child poverty will begin rising again in 2013.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Jean, a member of the European Parliament Employment and Social Affairs Committee said: “However you measure child poverty levels, it is clear that welfare benefits make a difference: some policy decisions give better outcomes and this report demonstrates that. It also sets a challenge – how great a depth of poverty are we prepared to see for some children before we react? In this time of crisis we need to act fast before we see the life chances of even more children reduced and damaged.”

Notes to Editor

1. UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (2012), ‘Measuring Child Poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries’, Innocenti Report Card 10, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence
2.  The findings of Report Card 10 are based on two measures; the Child Deprivation Index and relative poverty.  The Child Deprivation Index, taken from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions from 29 European countries.  Report Card 10 defines a child as ‘deprived’ if he or she lacks two or more of a list of 14 basic items.  The second measure, relative poverty, assess the percentage of children living below their national ‘poverty line’, defined as 50 per cent of median disposable household income.
3. The Report Card 10, based on the very latest available data on child poverty across all of the world’s advanced economies, also finds that:
–          The highest rates of deprivation are found in Romania, Bulgaria and Portugal, with more than 70%, 50% and 27% respectively, though richer countries such as France and Italy have deprivation rates about 10%
–          Nordic countries have the lowest rates of relative child poverty at seven per cent, whilst Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK have rates of between 10 and 15 per cent