Among European Union countries, Bulgaria has the highest rate – at 52 per cent – of under-18s at risk of poverty and social exclusion, according to figures released on February 26 2013 by EU statistics agency Eurostat.
Across the 27 countries of the EU, children are at greater risk of poverty or social exclusion than the rest of the population. In 2011, 27 per cent of children aged less than 18 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU27, compared with 24 per cent of adults (aged 18-64) and 21 per cent of the elderly (aged 65 and over).
Explaining its definition, Eurostat said that people at risk of poverty or social exclusion “are those who are at least in one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty, severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity”.
In most EU countries, children are more affected by at least one of the three forms of poverty or social exclusion than the other two age groups. In 2011, the highest shares of those aged less than 18 who were at risk of poverty or social exclusion were registered in Bulgaria (52 per cent), Romania (49 per cent), Latvia (44 per cent), Hungary (40 per cent) and Ireland (38 per cent in 2010), and the lowest in Sweden, Denmark and Finland (all 16 per cent), followed by Slovenia (17 per cent), the Netherlands (18 per cent) and Austria (19 per cent).
The Eurostate figures are based on data from the EU Statistics on Income and Living Condition (EU-SILC) survey. Among others, the report looks at several factors affecting child poverty, such as the composition of the household in which the children live and the labour market situation of their parents.
Looking in more detail at monetary poverty, almost half of all children whose parents had a low education level (at the most lower secondary education) were at risk of poverty in the EU27 in 2011, compared with 22 per cent of children residing with parents who had a medium education level (at the most upper secondary education) and seven per cent of children with parents with a higher education level (tertiary education).
In all EU member states, the risk of poverty for children decreased when the education level of their parents was high, Eurostat said.
The largest differences between the share of children at risk of poverty who lived in a low and in a high education level household were found in Romania (78 per cent of children in a low education level household compared with two per cent in a high education level household), the Czech Republic (76 per cent and five per cent), Slovakia (77 per cent and seven per cent), Bulgaria (71 per cent and two per cent) and Hungary (68 per cent and three per cent), and the smallest differences in Denmark (17 per cent and five per cent) and Finland (24 per cent and six per cent).
Almost one child in three with a migrant background is at risk of poverty in the EU27, Eurostat said.
In the EU27, children who have a migrant background, meaning that at least one parent was born in another country than the current country of residence, were at greater risk of monetary poverty than children whose parents were native born. In 2011, 32 per cent of children residing with at least one foreign born parent were at risk of poverty in the EU27, compared with 18 per cent of children whose parents were native born.
This was the case in most EU countries. In Estonia, Hungary and Malta children with native born parents had a higher risk of poverty, while there was almost no difference between the two groups in the Czech Republic.
With regard to children who lived with at least one foreign born parent, the share of those at risk of poverty varied significantly between member states in 2011, ranging from 15 per cent in the Czech Republic, 17 per cent in Estonia and 18 per cent in Malta to 46 per cent in Spain, 43 per cent in Greece and 39 per cent in France. The share of children at risk of poverty who lived with native born parents was lowest in Denmark and Austria (both eight per cent) and highest in Romania.