NEWS » 17% of Italian children living under the poverty line?

17% of Italian children living under the poverty line?

Over the past decade, Italy has been the slowest growing economy in the Euro zone. The growing impoverishment of Italy (according to the
retailers’ association “Confcommercio”, by the end of 2013 over 4 million Italians would be living in absolute poverty) has already had a strong impact
on children and adolescents. 

According to a recent report by the United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) about two million Italian children are already poor. What is more, Italy spends only four percent of its total social expenditure on social services for children.

The third largest Euro zone economy ranks 22 among 29 countries. This is what has emerged from the report on child well-being in the developed world.

In the 35 OECD (Organisation for economic co-operation and development) countries, 30 million minors are living in poverty. While in the European Union (plus Norway and Iceland) about 13 million children and adolescents are lacking the basic elements needed for their development. 

The criteria considered by UNICEF to measure child well-being has been: physical and material well-being, health and safety,education, housing and environment.

The report examined in particular two types of poverty. The first one was the index of childhood deprivation that is material deprivation, the percentage of children who can’t access goods, activities and services regarded as “normal” in the economically developed world, as for example to have 3 meals a day, toys and books adequate for their age, a quiet place to study, or an internet connection.

It has emerged that 1.8 million children in Italy do not have regular access to basic necessities such as food. 17 percent of children live under the poverty line.

The highest rates of material deprivation were found in countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Portugal, although some of the richest countries such as France and Italy have deprivation rates exceeding 10%. The Nordic countries have the lowest rate of deprivation among minors, less than 3%.

The second measure examined in the report concerns the relative poverty, taking into consideration the percentage of children and adolescents who live below the national "poverty line" - defined as 50% of the average disposable income for families.

20 percent of Italian children up to 17 years of age live in households with incomes less than 50 percent of the country’s average income.

Italy is behind countries such as Spain, Hungary, and Poland. However, it ranked better than Estonia, Slovakia and Greece.

The Nordic countries and the Netherlands have the lowest rates of relative child poverty, around 7%. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and
the United Kingdom have rates between 10 and 15%, while more than 20% of children in Romania and the United States live in relative poverty.

Particularly evident in the Report, are the comparisons between countries with similar economies, which show how government policy has
a significant impact on the lives of children and adolescents.

For example, Denmark and Sweden have much lower rates of child poverty than Belgium or Germany, but all four countries have the same
levels of development and income per person.

Giulia Lombardo

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