UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, has found that there are millions more children living below the poverty line in European and other developed countries than there were before the financial crisis of 2008.
A UNICEF report released Tuesday in Rome says that 2.6 million children have sunk below the poverty line in the world's most affluent countries since the financial crisis began in 2008. The total number of children living in poverty in rich countries has risen to an estimated 76.5 million.
"The report found that the social policy responses of countries with similar economic circumstances varied markedly, with differing impacts on children," said Jeffrey O'Malley, UNICEF's head of global policy and strategy, in a press release on the organization's website.
UNICEF's analysis showed that early economic stimulus programs in some countries were effective in protecting children, but that things changed after 2010. that year, most developed countries pivoted sharply from budget stimulus to budget cuts. That had negative effects on children - especially in the Mediterranean region.
"Many affluent countries have suffered a great leap backwards in terms of household income, and the impact on children will have long-lasting reercussions for them and their communities," O'Malley said, adding that "all children need strong social safety nets to protect children in bad times and good - and wealthy countries should lead by example."
Efforts to track child welfare
The report, called the #link:http://www.unicef-irc.org/article/1069/:Innocenti Report Card 12 - Children of the Recession#, prepared by UNICEF's Office of Research, which calls itself Innocenti, was the twelfth in an annual series of Innocenti reports tracking child poverty, on the basis of assessing the most reliable available official statistical economic and demographic data.
The series defines the "poverty line" as 60 percent of a country's median income - the same threshold used by the European statistics agency, Eurostat. Children living in families earning less are considered to be living in poverty.
Innocenti used a definition of material affluence anchored to the relative poverty line in 2008 and adjusted for inflation, as a benchmark to figure out whether children have lost or gained ground since then.
The report was released at an event co-hosted by UNICEF and the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Italian labor and social policy ministry.