7 Reasons Why Child Poverty Matters (Part 2)

Child Poverty is perhaps the worst form of lack and violence that children in our societies face today. It is estimated that, 1 in every 2 children in our world today are affected by poverty. We give 7 reasons why child poverty deserves urgent attention by each one of us.

4. Because ending child poverty is crucial in breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty and addressing poverty overall:

Breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty can only be achieved through priority attention to children in poverty. As children become poor adults and parents, poverty is then passed on to the next generation of children.

Some of the evidence that exists shows :

  • Children growing up in poverty are more likely to be poor as adults. A study of child poverty in the US found that children who experienced poverty at any point during childhood were more than three times as likely to be poor at age 30 as those who were never poor as children. The longer a child was poor, the greater the risk of being poor in adulthood.
  • A substantial number of studies document the strong relationship between parent and child incomes as adults, suggesting that although income mobility varies substantially by country, it is much lower than generally thought. Most studies focus on developed countries, due to data limitations, but when estimates are calculated for Latin America and other developing countries, they show even lower levels of intergenerational mobility than most developed countries.
  • Intergenerational mobility goes hand in hand with inequality: countries with low mobility tend to have high levels of inequality. In contrast, highly mobile societies are also the ones with the lowest levels of inequality.

Addressing this intergenerational transmission of poverty is vital to addressing poverty reduction, and with children representing around a third to a half of those living in poverty across countries, addressing poverty without focusing on child poverty is impossible.

Children growing up in poverty are more likely to be poor as adults

5. Because failure to end child poverty is one of the most costly mistakes that society can make:

Child poverty results in lower skills and productivity, lower levels of health and educational achievement, increased likelihood of unemployment, and lower social cohesion. These have societal and economic impacts.

Child poverty is strongly linked to other national priorities. For example, child mortality is closely linked to poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty, mostly from preventable conditions and diseases.

22,000 children die each day due to poverty… 

Child poverty destroys national potential. An article by The Lancet, for example, estimates that poverty and associated health, nutrition and social factors prevent at least 200 million children in developing countries from attaining their development potential, with long-term implications for economies and societies.

The economic costs of child poverty are high. While there is not research on this area in all regions, an estimate of the economic costs of child poverty in the US finds that the lost productivity and extra health and crime costs stemming from child poverty add up to roughly USD $ 500 billion a year, or 3.8 % of GDP. A different estimate in the UK, finds that the total annual cost of child poverty in the UK is £25 billion per year, equivalent to about 2% of GDP.

6. Because despite the urgency child poverty has received too little attention:

Despite all these reasons to act urgently on child poverty, many countries still don’t prioritize children in their policies and programmes to end poverty. A UNICEF survey, for example, found only around a third of countries are routinely measuring child poverty.

 7. Because child poverty is a problem with proven solutions:

Knowing that child poverty has devastating effect on children and societies, and that children are overrepresented among those living in poverty, is a strong call to action. But what compels us – morally and practically – to act is that child poverty is a problem with a solution. Find out more, here.


Read Part 1 of this article, here.

7 Reasons Why Child Poverty Matters is part of ‘A World Free from Child Poverty’, a Guide by the Global Coalition to End Child Poverty



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