The extent of child poverty and child deprivation in Malta and Gozo emerged in the recent ‘Report Card 10’ published by UNICEF eight days ago.
The report shows that some 13 million children in the European Union (plus Norway and Iceland) lack basic items necessary for their development. Meanwhile, 30 million children – across 35 countries with developed economies – live in poverty.
According to this report 38% of Maltese children between the age of 1 and 16 living in jobless families live in deprivation. 31.2% of children in one single parent families are also living in deprivation. 15.8% of children whose parents have a low level of education also live in deprivation.
Report Card 10 examines child poverty and child deprivation in two entirely different ways. By examining these two different types of child poverty, Report Card 10 brings together the very latest available data on child poverty and child deprivation across all of the world’s advanced industrial economies.
The first measure is a Child Deprivation Index, taken from data European Union’s Statistics on Income and Living Conditions from 29 European countries that includes for the first time a section on children. Report Card 10 defines a child as “deprived” if he or she lacks two or more of a list of 14 basic items, such as three meals a day, a quiet place to do homework, educational books at home, or an Internet connection.
The Report shows that poverty does not fall from the sky, it is created on earth because of specific social and economic policies and it can only be eliminated by effective policies that put the war on poverty at the top of their agenda.
“The data reinforces that far too many children continue to go without the basics in countries that have the means to provide,” said Gordon Alexander, Director of UNICEF's Office of Research. “The report also shows that some countries performed well – when looking at what is largely pre crisis data – due to the social protection systems that were in place. The risk is that in the current crisis we won’t see the consequences of poor decisions until much later.”
Particularly striking in Report Card 10 are the comparisons between countries with similar economies, demonstrating that government policy can have a significant impact on the lives of children. For example, Denmark and Sweden have much lower rates of child deprivation than Belgium or Germany, yet all four countries have roughly similar levels of economic development and per capita income.
“The report makes clear that some governments are doing much better at tackling child deprivation than others,” said Mr Alexander. “The best performers show it is possible to address poverty within the current fiscal space. On the flip side, failure to protect children from today’s economic crisis is one of the most costly mistakes a society can make.”