PORTUGAL: Three in ten children are ‘deprived’ - UNICEF

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[2 June 2012] - While around 20 per cent of Portuguese are estimated to currently live beneath the breadline, UNICEF this week said that almost a third of Portuguese children are living in a state of deprivation. The report by the United Nations organisation placed Portugal near the foot of the 29 European countries assessed.

As debates rage on austerity measures and social spending cuts, UNICEF has this week revealed the extent of child poverty and child deprivation in the world’s advanced economies.

Around 13 million children in the European Union (plus Norway and Iceland) lack basic items necessary for their development, with Portugal faring amongst the worst. Only the children of Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania were found to be living in worse conditions than in Portugal.

The 40-page study entitled Report Card 10, from UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre, looks at child poverty and child deprivation across the industrialised world, comparing and ranking countries’ performance.

Report Card 10 examines child poverty and child deprivation in two entirely different ways.

The first measure is a Child Deprivation Index, calculated using data from the European Union’s Statistics on Income and Living Conditions from 29 European countries and which that include for the first time, a section on children.

Report Card 10 defines a child as ‘deprived’ if he or she lacks two or more of a list of 14 basic items, such as three meals a day, a quiet place to do homework, educational books at home, or an Internet connection.

The highest rates of deprivation are found in countries that include Romania, Bulgaria and Portugal (with more than 70 per cent, 50 per cent and 27 per cent respectively), though even some richer countries, such as France and Italy, have deprivation rates above ten per cent.

The second measure scrutinised in Report Card 10 looks at relative poverty, examining the percentage of children living below their national “poverty line” – defined as 50 per cent of median disposable household income with Portugal placed in a lowly 25th position.

The figures were taken from 2009 statistics, and could be worse, especially for countries hardest hit by the economic crisis.

“The data reinforces that far too many children continue to go without the basics in countries that have the means to provide,” said Gordon Alexander, Director of UNICEF’s Office of Research.

“The report also shows that some countries performed well – when looking at what is largely pre-crisis data – due to the social protection systems that were in place. The risk is that in the current crisis we won’t see the consequences of poor decisions until much later.” 

 

Further Information:

pdf: http://www.theportugalnews.com/cgi-bin/article.pl?id=1167-7

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