Tackling child poverty in Europe

Tackling child poverty effectively requires a rights-based approach that puts children at the centre of policy-making, according to a report from two European campaign groups.

The report examines child poverty in a European context, its causes, and how it affects the lives of children and their families. It goes on to challenge a range of myths and stereotypes relating to child poverty, and highlights effective policy solutions that can help to fight it – particularly in times of austerity and public spending cuts.

Key points

  • Child poverty is 'above all' about children growing up in families with insufficient income. But it is also about not living in decent housing or having access to good-quality education and healthcare. And it is about children not having their voices heard.
  • Child poverty in Europe is primarily a relative concept, where children's way of life is so much worse than the general standard of living in the country or region in which they live that they struggle to live a normal life and to participate in ordinary economic, social and cultural activities.
  • But absolute child poverty also still exists in Europe, where children lack basic necessities – such as regular, healthy food, heating, decent housing, clean water, sufficient clothing or medicines and healthcare – and when life is a day to day struggle to survive. This is an 'increasing reality' for some children in the EU.
  • Child well-being is about more than tackling child poverty. It involves taking a 'whole child perspective' that considers the multi-dimensional nature of children’s lives and the importance of their relationships. It encompasses health, education, family support, protection from harm, and children’s ability to fully participate in decisions affecting them.
  • A rights-based approach to tackling child poverty puts the needs of the child at the centre of policy-making, and is key to preventing child poverty. It puts a focus on strong anti-discrimination legislation in tackling poverty and social exclusion.

The report welcomes the European Commission's recommendation on child poverty, issued earlier in 2013. But it calls for stronger political leadership on the issue, and for child poverty and well-being to be made central to the Europe 2020 strategy for inclusive economic growth.

Source: Hugh Frazer, Towards Children's Well-Being in Europe: Explainer on Child Poverty in the EU, European Anti-Poverty Network/Eurochild
Link: Report
See also: EC recommendation (February 2013)