Child deprivation in Europe

UNICEF researchers have estimated the degree to which deprivation is experienced by children in 29 European countries, using a child-specific scale. Their paper highlights the considerable differences between countries, suggesting that specific policy measures can be effective in combating child deprivation.

The researchers argue that studying deprivation – alongside the overlapping situation of children living in families poor in monetary terms – is imperative for understanding the scope and nature of poverty among children. Deprivation analyses are especially useful when studying the situation of children because children do not have equal access to the household’s income, and are more dependent on social goods and services (especially education and health).

The paper discusses the construction of a child deprivation scale, and estimates a European Child Deprivation Index for 29 countries. Countries are then ranked by degree of child deprivation, and can be divided into four major groups:

  • the Nordic countries and the Netherlands – child deprivation rate 10 per cent or less
  • four large economies (Germany, France, Spain, United Kingdom) and a group of eight smaller countries – child deprivation rate 11–20 per cent
  • a group of new EU member states (Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia) plus Italy and Greece – child deprivation around 25 per cent
  • three countries (Portugal, Bulgaria, Romania) with child deprivation above 25 per cent.

In all countries, children are more likely to experience deprivation when they live with lone parents, in large families, and in families where the adults are not employed and/or have lower levels of education. Child deprivation is also very high in households where at least one parent is a migrant.

Even in relatively rich countries levels of child deprivation are still considerable – and the economic crisis affecting these countries risks aggravating the situation for children.

The full paper (Chris de Neubourg, Jonathan Bradshaw, Yekaterina Chzhen, Gill Main, Bruno Martorano, and Leonardo Menchini, Child Deprivation, Multidimensional Poverty and Monetary Poverty in Europe, Working Paper 2012–02, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence) is available on the Innocenti Research Centre website.