The UK came almost last in the list of wealthy countries fighting child poverty, just ahead of Colombia and Turkey. Slovenia was at the top of the rankings.


Some of the world’s richest countries saw a sharp increase in child poverty between 2014 and 2021, according to new data released by UNICEF.

The Report on child poverty amid wealth showed shocking results, with some of the world’s richest countries such as the UK, Spain and Luxembourg falling to the bottom of the charts.

On the other hand, poorer countries such as Poland and Slovenia perform best in combating child poverty, followed by Latvia and the Republic of Korea.

The study presents the most current and comparable picture of child poverty in OECD and EU countries and analyzes governments’ income support policies for families with children.

It found that despite an overall decline in poverty of almost 8% in 40 countries between 2014 and 2021, at the end of 2021 more than 69 million children still lived in households earning less than 60% of the average national income.

“The impact of poverty on children is both persistent and damaging,” said UNICEF Director Innocenti Bo Viktor Nylund.

“For most children, this means they may grow up without adequate nutritious food, clothing, school supplies or a warm place to call home. It prevents the fulfillment of rights and can lead to poor physical and mental health.”

The consequences of poverty can last a lifetime. Children affected by poverty have fewer chances of completing school and earn less as adults. According to the report, in some countries a person born in a disadvantaged area is likely to live eight to nine years shorter than a person born in an affluent area.

The report also highlights the huge inequalities in poverty risk. In 38 countries with available data, children living in a single-parent family are more than three times as likely as other children to live in poverty. Children with disabilities and members of ethnic/racial minorities are also at higher than average risk.

Wealth does not determine the child’s living conditions

According to the results, this group of countries experienced stable economic growth from 2012 to 2019, representing an opportunity to recover from the effects of the 2008-2010 recession.

However, while some countries reduced child poverty during this time, some of the richest countries saw the largest declines. The report also shows that countries with similar national incomes, such as Slovenia and Spain, have large differences in child poverty rates – 10% and 28%, respectively.

Children’s living conditions can be improved regardless of a country’s wealth, the report says.

For example, Poland, Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania – which are not among the richest OECD and EU countries – achieved significant reductions in child poverty, falling by 38% in Poland and 31% in the other countries.

Meanwhile, five higher-income countries – the United Kingdom (+20%) and France, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland (each around +10%) – saw the largest increases in the number of children living in financially vulnerable households have been in trouble since 2014.

How to solve the problem

To eradicate child poverty, the report card calls on governments and stakeholders to urgently:

  • Expand social protection for children, including child and family benefits, to supplement families’ household income.

  • Ensure that all children have access to quality basic services such as childcare and free education, which are essential to their well-being.

  • Create employment opportunities with decent pay and family-friendly policies, such as: B. paid parental leave to support parents and carers in combining work and care.

  • Ensure that there are measures adapted to the specific needs of minority groups and single households to facilitate access to social protection, essential services and decent work and reduce inequalities.

The report finds that much can be learned from the success of different countries.

“How we use these insights will determine how effectively we can ensure the well-being of children today and in the future,” Nylund concluded.

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