Crisis pulls 2.6 million children below poverty line: UNICEF

October 28, 2014 12:36 pm
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Children play on the doorstep of an appartment in Sanlucar de Barrameda, in Spain, where median household incomes for families with children have receded 10 years/AFP
Children play on the doorstep of an appartment in Sanlucar de Barrameda, in Spain, where median household incomes for families with children have receded 10 years/AFP

, GENEVA, October 28 – At least 2.6 million children have fallen below the poverty line in the world’s richest nations since the economic crisis struck in 2008, UNICEF said in a hard hitting report Tuesday.

The “Children of the Recession” study showed that the number of minors living in poverty in 41 countries had swollen to 76.5 million since the deepest crisis since the Great Depression took hold.

“Many affluent countries have suffered a ‘great leap backwards’ in terms of household income, and the impact on children will have long-lasting repercussions for them and their communities,” said Jeffrey O’Malley, UNICEF’s head of global policy and strategy.

The study by the United Nations’ children’s aid agency assessed members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development grouping of industrialised nations, as well as European Union countries.

It found that in 23 of the 41 countries, child poverty had risen as a direct result of the crisis.

Children were particularly hard hit in nations that have suffered the most. In Ireland, Croatia, Latvia, Greece and Iceland, poverty rates rose by more than 50 percent.

In Greece, the most symbolic of all Europe’s crisis casualties, median household incomes for families with children had sunk to the 1998 level — the equivalent of receding 14 years on the income ladder.

Those in Ireland and Spain lost a decade, as did Luxembourg, even though it remains among the wealthiest economies in Europe.

Families with children in Iceland lost nine years, while Italy, Hungary and Portugal lost eight.

Underlining the impact of the crisis, UNICEF said the percentage of households unable to buy meat, chicken or fish every two days had more than doubled in countries such as Estonia, Greece and Italy.

It said while early stimulus programmes in some countries were effective in shielding children, by 2010 the bulk of countries had pivoted to budget cuts.

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