According to the latest UNICEF report, child poverty in rich countries continues to increase. Among the states concerned, France is positioned at the bottom of the ranking, leading to harmful effects on children.
France, a developed country with a growing rate of child poverty
Yet one of the richest countries in the European Union, France saw its child poverty rate increase between 2014 and 2021. A surprising trend when we note that poorer countries like Slovenia or Poland record a significant drop in it. The report indicates that France is positioned in 33rd place out of 39 countries in the European Union and the OECD. Its child poverty rate is estimated on average at 19.9% between 2019 and 2021. This situation is not improving because the poverty rate is currently still increasing.
So what makes child poverty worse? Among the people most affected are children with only one parent, those with disabilities and young people from racial or ethnic minorities. Overseas communities are also more affected by this phenomenon of child insecurity.
Yet, “the effects of poverty on children are both persistent and detrimental” confides Bo Viktor Nylund, director of UNICEF’s Innocenti Global Research and Foresight Office. Indeed, the children concerned do not always have sufficient access to food, school supplies, clothing or even a place where they feel at home. According to the report, in 2021, in France, 12.7% of those under 16 lacked essential materials for child development. The director adds: “This prevents them from enjoying their rights and can harm their physical and mental health.”.
In addition, these effects can have serious long-term consequences. Children who live in poverty are less likely to complete school and earn less as adults. According to the report, in some countries a person from a disadvantaged background can see their life expectancy reduced by 8 to 9 years compared to a person born in a wealthy area.
Living conditions that can be improved
Faced with this major issue, Unicef analyzes the report and concludes that living conditions can be improved regardless of the wealth of a country. Indeed, according to the figures, the poorest countries in the EU have managed to reduce child poverty considerably while some of the rich countries are struggling. The decline in child poverty therefore seems in reality to be more linked to political will than to the wealth of the country.
Thus, Unicef recommends that governments:
– Strengthen social protection for childrenin particular by increasing family allowances in order to supplement family income.
– To ensure that all children have effective access to basic and quality services. These services include childcare, education, health care, healthy and sufficient food and decent housing; services essential to their well-being and respect for their rights. In other words, it is about concretely implementing the commitments made within the framework of the European Child Guarantee.
– Create employment benefits for families, such as adequate wages and family-friendly policies. For example, this could be paid parental leave, to help parents care for their children.
– To ensure measures adapted to the specific needs of the most vulnerable children. These measures would primarily concern children in migration situations, those who are homeless or living in a single-parent family.
Governments still need to take these recommendations into account in order to help children flourish in their future…