Children at risk of poverty or social exclusion

Data extracted in March 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.

Children were the age group at the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2014

This article presents statistical data on the situation of children (aged 0–17) in the European Union (EU) who were at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE).

The analysis compares them with adults (18–64) and the elderly (65 or over), and also takes a look at the impact of the household type, employment situation, parents educational level, migrant background and severe material deprivation. All figures are based on EU-SILC (Statistics on income and living conditions).

In 2014, 27.8 % of children in the EU-28 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE) compared with 25.4 % of adults (18–64) and 17.8 % of the elderly (65 or over).

Factors influencing the risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE) were:

  • The types of household: single parents with dependent children (48.3 %) and single persons (33.7 %) and two adults with three or more dependent children (32.5 %) had the highest AROPE rates.
  • Monetary poverty: more than 74.7 % of low to very low work intensity households with dependent children were at risk of poverty.
  • Level of education: 50.5 % of children whose parents’ highest level of education was low were at risk of poverty compared with 8.0 % of children whose parents’ highest level of education was high.
  • Migrant background: children with a migrant background were at a greater risk of poverty than children whose parents were native born.
  • Living conditions: 19.1 % of single-parent households were severely materially deprived compared with 9.8 % of households with dependent children.
Figure 1: Children at risk of poverty or social exclusion, 2010 and 2014
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_peps01)
Infographic 1: Population at risk of poverty or social exclusion, by age group, 2014 (overview)
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_peps01)
Infographic 2: Population at risk of poverty or social exclusion, by age group, 2014
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_peps01)
Figure 2: Population at risk of poverty or social exclusion, by household type, EU-28, 2014
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_peps03)
Figure 3: Population at risk of poverty or social exclusion, by work intensity of the household, EU-28, 2014
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_li06)
Figure 4: Children at risk of poverty or social exclusion, by the highest level of education attained by parents living in the same household, 2014
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_li60)
Figure 5: Children at risk of poverty rate by country of birth of their parents (population aged 0–17), 2014
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_li34)
Figure 6: Severe material deprivation rate, by household type, EU-28, 2014
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_mddd13)
Table 2: Share of deprived children (lacking selected items) (aged 1–15), 2014
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat EU-SILC 2014 module

Main statistical findings

Children growing in poverty and social exclusion are less likely to do well in school, enjoy good health and realise their full potential later in life, when they are at a higher risk of becoming unemployed and poor and socially excluded.

The AROPE indicator is defined as the share of the population in at least one of the following three conditions:

  1. at risk of poverty, meaning below the poverty threshold,
  2. in a situation of severe material deprivation,
  3. living in a household with a very low work intensity.


From 2010 to 2014, the AROPE for children rose in 17 EU Member States (see Figure 1).

The largest increases in the AROPE since 2010, with more than 4 percentage points (pp) were observed in Greece (8.0 pp), Malta (4.6 pp) and Luxembourg (4.1 pp). In total, increases were recorded in 17 EU Member States. Decreases were recorded in 11 EU Member States, with major falls recorded in Bulgaria (-4.6 pp) as well as Latvia and Lithuania (each -6.9 pp).

Regarding the overall situation in 2014 (see Infographic 1), the share of children living in a household at risk of poverty or social exclusion ranged from around 15 % in Denmark , until 51 % in Romania; the EU-28 rate was 27.8 %.

The AROPE rates differ for different age groups. In 2014, 27.8% of children (aged 0–17) in the EU-28 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion compared with 25.4 % of adults (aged 18–64) and 17.8 % of the elderly (aged 65 or over). Even though children were the population age group with the highest at risk of poverty or social exclusion rates, there were also some exceptions: in Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia and Lithuania, the elderly were most at risk, while in Denmark, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden, adults were the age group with the highest risk. However, despite the fact that the elderly and adults respectively had the highest AROPE rates of these two groups of countries, child poverty ranked second highest in nearly all of them.

The largest differences between the AROPE rates of children and the total population were found in Romania and Hungary at more than 10.0 pp. Malta, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Spain, Slovakia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Austria had rates that were more than 4.0 pp higher for children than for the total population. On the other hand, in some EU Member States, the AROPE rates for children were below those of the total population, most notably in Denmark (– 3.4 pp), Cyprus and Slovenia (both – 2.7 pp) and Estonia (– 2.2 %).

The main factors affecting child poverty, after taking account of the effect of social transfers in reducing child poverty, are the composition of the household in which the children live and the labour market situation of their parents, linked also to their level of education.

Single parents with dependent children and single persons

Single parents with dependent children and single persons were at the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion (see Figure 2).

The household structure has a significant effect on the total household disposable income. In fact, different types of households have different at-risk-of-poverty profiles. When defining household types, the concept of dependent children (individuals aged 0–17 and 18–24 years if inactive and living with at least one parent) is used instead of the concept of children (aged 0–17) as a population age group.

In the case of single-person households with dependent children (48.3 %) were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared with only about two in every ten (19.0 %) of households with two adults and two dependent children.

More generally, the AROPE rate for single person with dependent children was approximately 22 pp higher than for households with dependent children (48.3 % vs 26.0 %). 32.5 % of households with two adults and three or more dependent children and 30.6 % of households with three or more adults with dependent children were at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

The AROPE rate for households without dependent children was nevertheless higher for single person households (33.7 %) than for most households with dependent children; the only exception was single-person households with dependent children.

Low to very low work intensity households with dependent children

Around 65 % of the low and very low work intensity households with dependent children in the EU-28 were at risk of poverty.

Labour is the most important source of income for most households and thus has an impact on the AROPE rate, i.e. the share of people below the poverty threshold. However, jobless households are not the only ones at risk of poverty. That is why the relationship between employment and risk of poverty at household level is used to assess the concept of work intensity. Work intensity reflects how much working age adults in a household worked in relation to their total work potential in a year. For example, dependent children who live in households with very low work intensity (equal or inferior to 0.2) are those living in households where, on average, the adults worked less than 20 % of their time in a year.

In the EU-28, the highest AROPE rate was recorded for very low work intensity households with dependent children (74.7 %) (see Figure 3).

Compared to households without dependent children, households with dependent children were at a greater risk of poverty across all levels of work intensity. In addition, the gap between households with and without dependent children increased when work intensity decreased. This difference in the at-risk-of-poverty rate ranged from around 3 pp for high and very high work intensity households to around 17 pp for low and very low work intensity households with dependent children.

Impact of parents’ education level on risk of poverty

Nearly half of the children whose parents did not attain upper secondary education were at risk of poverty.

Education affects the type of job an individual can access. Indeed, the risk of poverty rises as the level of education diminishes. In the EU-28 in 2014 (see Figure 4), around 50 % of children (aged 0–17) living in households in which the highest level of education attained by the parents living in the same household was lower secondary level (0–2 ISCED) were at risk of poverty, compared with 8 % for parents with a high level of education (5-6 ISCED).

The difference between household with parents achieved a high level of education (5–6 ISCED) and those with low level of education (0–2 ISCED) is 42.5 pp.

At country level, the difference between the AROPE rates for children with parents with low and high levels of education ranged from 12.1–22.8 pp in Finland, Ireland and the United Kingdom to 73.7–80.0 pp in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia.

Country of birth of the parents and risk of poverty

Migrant background also matters. In fact, children with a migrant background tended to be more exposed to poverty than the total child population. Overall, in 2014 (see Figure 5), children (aged 0–17) with at least one foreign-born parent were at a greater risk of poverty (14.4 pp higher) than children with native-born parents (see Data sources and availability). The greatest differences between children with foreign and native-born parents were recorded in Spain (+ 32.0 pp) and Greece (+ 29.3 pp). For seven other EU Member States for which data is available, the difference was more than 15.0 pp.

The highest AROPE rates for children with at least one foreign-born parent were recorded in Belgium (37.2 %), Greece (48.9 %) and Spain (55.1 %), while the lowest rates were observed in Latvia (15.2 %), Denmark (16.4 %) and Hungary (17.8 %).

However, in some EU Member States having a migrant background did not result in more exposure to poverty than the native-born population. Latvia and Hungary (– 9.6 pp and – 6.8 pp, respectively) were the only EU Member States (for which data is available), along with Portugal (+ 0.2 pp) and Slovakia (+ 1.3 pp), where children with at least one foreign-born parent had a lower or similar at-risk-of-poverty rate than children of native-born parents.

Material deprivation at household level

In 2014, 19.1 % of children living with single parents in the EU-28 were severely materially deprived, compared with 9.8 % of households with dependent children (see Figure 6). Indicators of material deprivation provide a complementary view of children's well-being and living conditions (see Ad hoc module Material deprivation).

With respect to types of households, 19.1 % of single parents and 14.1 % of households with three or more adults with dependent children were at the highest risk compared to, on average, 9.8 % of households with dependent children.

Material deprivation: child-specific items

The ad-hoc module in the EU-SILC 2014 provides information focused on specific children material deprivation items. Here, children are referred as those aged 1–15 years (see Table 2, where the most significant items are shown).

Regarding food items, in the EU-28, the average share was 4.0 % (fruits and vegetables) and 5.1 % (proteins). 40.0 % of children in Bulgaria did not eat fresh fruit and vegetables once a day as these items could not be afforded. The situation was similar in Hungary (22.8 %), Romania (14.9 %) and Latvia (10.0 %). Similarly, in Bulgaria and Hungary, 42.4 % and 22.1 % of children respectively did not eat one meal with meat, chicken or fish or vegetarian equivalent (proteins) per day because the household could not afford it.

Regarding clothes, this is the item that was lacking the most across EU Member States out of the four items presented (fruits and vegetables, proteins, shoes and clothes) with 7.4 % of children deprived in this dimension in EU-28. More than 20 % of children in Bulgaria (36.2%), Hungary (27.4 %), Romania (26.6 %) and Latvia (24.3 %) did not have new clothes because the household could not afford them.

Finally, about the lack of two pairs of properly fitting shoes (including a pair of all-weather shoes); on the one side there were EU Member States with a share of more than 10 % in Latvia (11.7%), Romania (28.0 %) and Bulgaria (48.6 %), while on the other Luxembourg (0.9 %), Finland (0.8 %), Greece (0.6 %), Lithuania (0.4 %) and Sweden (0.3 %) all reported shares of under 1 %. As a general overview, the share in 20 EU Member States was below 4.0 %.

Data sources and availability

EU-SILC is the main source of information used in the European Union to develop indicators monitoring poverty and social exclusion.

At-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate (AROPE): This indicator is the headline indicator to monitor the EU2020 Strategy poverty target. It reflects the share of the population which is either at risk of poverty, or severely materially deprived or lives in a household a very low work intensity.

Children with migrant background: A child is considered to have a migrant background if at least one of the parents living with him/her was foreign born. On the other hand, a child is considered to be native-born if both parents living in the household are native-born or, if there is only one parent in the household, that parent is native-born.

Material deprivation of children (2014 module): A child is deprived in one item if the household cannot afford that item for at least one child (enforced lack). This module only includes 1–15 year-old children.

  1. Some new (not second-hand) clothes;
  2. Two pairs of properly fitting shoes, including a pair of all-weather shoes;
  3. Fresh fruits & vegetables daily;
  4. Three meals a day;
  5. One meal with meat, chicken, fish or vegetarian equivalent daily;
  6. Books at home suitable for the children’s age;
  7. Outdoor leisure equipment;
  8. Indoor games;
  9. A suitable place to do homework;
  10. To consult a dentist when needed;
  11. To consult a general practitioner (GP) when needed;
  12. Regular leisure activities (sports, youth organisations, etc.);
  13. Celebrations on special occasions;
  14. To invite friends round to play and eat from time to time;
  15. To participate in school trips and school events that costs money;
  16. Outdoor space in the neighbourhood to play safely;
  17. One week annual holiday away from home.


Highest level of education attained by parents living in the child's household: The classification of educational activities is based on ISCED — the International Standard Classification of Education — UNESCO 1997. It has the following categories:

  • ISCED 0 — pre-primary education
  • ISCED 1 — primary education
  • ISCED 2 — lower secondary education
  • ISCED 3 — (upper) secondary education
  • ISCED 4 — post-secondary non-tertiary education
  • ISCED 5 — first stage of tertiary education
  • ISCED 6 — second stage of tertiary education


EU average: EU aggregates are computed as the population-weighted averages of national indicators.

Context

EU-SILC (EU Statistics on income and living conditions) is the reference source for statistics and indicators on income and living conditions. It is regulated under the Framework Regulation 1177/2003.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Database

People at risk of poverty or social exclusion (Europe 2020 strategy) (ilc_pe)
Main indicator - Europe 2020 target on poverty and social exclusion (ilc_peps)
Income distribution and monetary poverty (ilc_ip)
Monetary poverty (ilc_li)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

  • Regulation 1177/2003 of 16 June 2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)
  • Regulation 1553/2005 of 7 September 2005 amending Regulation 1177/2003 concerning Community statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC)
  • Regulation 1791/2006 of 20 November 2006 adapting certain Regulations and Decisions in the fields of ... statistics, ..., by reason of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania

External links