Child poverty has increased in 23 countries in the developed world since the start of the global recession in 2008, says Unicef in its global report. Specifically, the number of children entering poverty during the recession is 2.6 million greater than at the start of the economic crisis.
Greece and Iceland have seen the largest percentage increases, followed by Latvia, Croatia and Ireland. In Greece, 2012 average household incomes for families with children sank to 1998 levels – the equivalent of a loss of 14 years of income progress.
Norway has the lowest child poverty rate, at 5.3% (down from 9.6% in 2008), and Greece has the highest, at 40.5% (up from 23% in 2008).
The percentage of households with children unable to afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish or a vegetable equivalent every second day more than doubled in four European countries – Estonia (to 10%), Greece (18%), Iceland (6%) and Italy (16%).
“Many affluent countries have suffered a ‘great leap backwards’ in terms of household income, and the impact on children will have long-lasting repercussions for them and their communities,” said Jeffrey O’Malley, Unicef’s Head of Global Policy and Strategy.
“Unicef’s research shows that the strength of social protection policies was a decisive factor in poverty prevention. All countries need strong social safety nets to protect children in bad times and in good – and wealthy countries should lead by example, explicitly committing to eradicate child poverty, developing policies to offset economic downturns, and making child well-being a top priority,” O’Malley said.