Child poverty is on the rise in half the European countries, according to the latest estimates from Eurostat.
A recent UNICEF report – Innocenti Report Card 12 – highlighted dramatic increases in child poverty in two-thirds of European countries since the start of the global economic crisis. The report released at the end of October 2014 ranked 41 countries of the EU and/or the OECD according to the absolute change in child poverty between 2008 and 2012 , the latest year for which data were available at the time of writing. Figures for 2013 have just been released for the EU member states.
How have the countries at the bottom of the UNICEF league table fared in 2013?
According to the methodology used in Report Card 12, i.e. “anchoring” the poverty line at the 2008 levels for greater comparability, child poverty in Greece has continued to rise. The share of poor children skyrocketed by 11 percentage points from the high of 41%, or four in ten children, to an even higher 52%, or one in two children. This is the highest rate of child poverty in the European Union.
Three other countries in the bottom third of the UNICEF league table have not been able to arrest the rise in child poverty by 2013: Hungary (+ 5 points), Italy (+ 2 points) and Luxembourg (+ 3 points).
In contrast, France brought child poverty down by one point since 2012, Iceland and Latvia by two points, Estonia by three points and Spain by nearly seven points. The result for Spain needs to be interpreted with caution due to a change in data collection methodology. Although Latvia checked the increase in child poverty, more than one in three children (36%) were income poor in 2013, the second highest rate after Greece.
What happened to the countries in the middle of the UNICEF ranking?
Several countries that clung to the top two-thirds of the ranking in the UNICEF report experienced substantial increases in child poverty between 2012 and 2013: Cyprus (+ 7 points), Portugal (+ 5 points), Slovenia (+ 3 points) and the Slovak Republic (+ 2 points).
Child poverty increased by nearly two points in just one year in Malta and the United Kingdom, the countries that experienced comparatively moderate increases in child poverty during the worst of the economic crisis.
Where are the top performers in the UNICEF league table by 2013?
Child poverty increased by 1.5 points in Poland, after it had gone down by 8 points between 2008 and 2012.
The only European country which held its place at the top of the league table is Switzerland, where child poverty fell by nearly 4 points since 2012. Romania also remains in the top third of the ranking, with a one-point decrease in child poverty, while Finland, Norway and Sweden are just behind with no substantial changes in child poverty between 2012 and 2013.
Denmark succeeded in reversing the change in child poverty, with a one-point decrease since 2012, after a one-point increase between 2008 and 2012. Child poverty went down by nearly two points in the Czech Republic, which saw no significant changes in child poverty during the earlier period.
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