Child poverty in the European Union: The crisis and its aftermath

Briefing 11-07-2016

More than one in four children in the European Union (EU) is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. The poverty rate for children is higher than that for any other age group, though it varies widely across Member States. Furthermore, between 2008 and 2014, Europe has witnessed a rise in the number of severely deprived children. The five main factors affecting child poverty are: the composition of the household in which a child lives, the parents' labour market situation, the mother’s own working status, the parents' educational level and their country of birth. Alongside these factors, two drivers have played a growing part in the rise of child poverty in the EU since the onset of the 'Great Recession': a cyclical one – the economic crisis – and a structural one – the phenomenon of inherited poverty. Therefore, child poverty has become a major policy concern for the European institutions. Six recent Council presidencies have commissioned studies and convened conferences on child poverty. In 2013, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation 'Investing in children – breaking the cycle of disadvantage' in connection with the creation of an evidence-based online platform. On 16 June 2016, the European Council adopted conclusions on an integrated approach for combating poverty and social exclusion. Similarly, combating child poverty and social exclusion has moved up the agenda of the two EU consultative committees and the European Parliament. Nevertheless, non-governmental organisations have highlighted some concerns that have not been fully addressed by the EU institutions.