Children at risk of poverty or social exclusion
- Data extracted in November 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update:May 2019.
Children were the age group at the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2015
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 2015, an estimated 26.9 % of children in the EU-28 were AROPE compared with 24.7 % of adults (18–64) and 17.4 % 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 (47.8 %) and single persons (32.9 %) and two adults with three or more dependent children (31.7 %) had the highest AROPE rates.
- Monetary poverty: 78.2 % of the population aged 0–59, living in very low work intensity households with dependent children were at risk of poverty.
- Level of education: 52.3 % of children whose parents’ highest level of education was low were at risk of poverty compared with 8.1 % 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: 17.0 % of single-parent households were severely materially deprived compared with 9.0 % of all households with dependent children.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
Children growing up 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:
- at risk of poverty, meaning below the poverty threshold,
- in a situation of severe material deprivation,
- living in a household with a very low work intensity.
From 2010 to 2015, the AROPE for children rose in 12 EU Member States (see Figure 1).
The largest increases in the AROPE since 2010, with 4 percentage points (pp) or more were observed in Greece (9.1 pp), Cyprus (7.1 pp) and Italy (4.0 pp). Decreases were recorded in 16 EU Member States, with major falls recorded in Latvia (– 10.9 pp) as well as Bulgaria (– 6.1 pp) and Poland (– 4.2 pp).
Regarding the overall situation in 2015 (see Infographic 1), the share of children living in a household at risk of poverty or social exclusion ranged from around 14 % in Sweden, to 46.8% in Romania; the EU-28 rate was 26.9 %.
The AROPE rates differ for different age groups. In 2015, 26.9 % of children (aged 0–17) in the EU-28 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion compared with 24.7 % of adults (aged 18–64) and 17.4 % 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 in most of the EU Member States, there were also some exceptions: in Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Sweden the elderly were most at risk, while in Denmark, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Finland, 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 7.0 pp. Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain, Malta, Slovakia and the United Kingdom 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 Slovenia (– 2.6 pp), Denmark and Sweden (both – 2.0 pp).
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, 47.8 % were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared with only about two in every ten (18.2 %) of households with two adults and two dependent children.
More generally, the AROPE rate for single person with dependent children was 22.7 pp higher than for households with dependent children (47.8 % vs 25.1 %). 31.7 % of households with two adults and three or more dependent children and 30.0 % 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 (32.9 %) 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 78.2 % of the very low work intensity households with dependent children and 62.2 % of the 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 people at risk of poverty or social exclusion. 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 or equal to 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 (78.2 %) (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 (except for the very low work intensity class). This difference in the at-risk-of-poverty rate ranged from around 2 pp for very high work intensity households to around 22 pp for low work intensity households.
Impact of parents’ education level on risk of poverty
More than 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 2015 (see Figure 4), around 52.3 % 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 8.1 % for parents with a high level of education (5–8 ISCED).
The difference between households with parents having achieved a high level of education (5–8 ISCED) and those with low level of education (0–2 ISCED) is 44.2 pp.
At country level, the difference between the AROPE rates for children with parents with low and high levels of education ranged from 17.9–26.6 pp in Denmark, Finland and the United Kingdom to 66.1–84.9 pp in Croatia, Romania and Slovakia.
Country of birth of the parents and risk of poverty
Migrant background also matters. In fact, at EU-28 level, children with a migrant background tended to be more exposed to poverty than the total child population. Overall, in 2015 (see Figure 5), children (aged 0–17) with at least one foreign-born parent were at a greater risk of poverty (14.8 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 Sweden (+ 27.9 pp), Denmark (+ 27.6 pp) and Greece (+ 27.3 pp). For 10 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 Italy (40.3 %), Greece (48.9 %) and Spain (50.0 %), while the lowest rates were observed in Latvia (17.7 %) and Estonia (18.0 %) .
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 Estonia (– 5.7 pp and – 2.0 pp, respectively) were the only EU Member States (for which data is available and reliable), where children with at least one foreign-born parent had a lower at-risk-of-poverty rate than children of native-born parents.
Material deprivation at household level
In 2015, 17.0 % of children living with single parents in the EU-28 were severely materially deprived, compared with 9.0 % 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, at EU-28 level, households with dependent children (9.0 %) are more at risk of severe material deprivation than households without dependent children (7.2 %). However, households of two adults with two dependent children (5.6 %) were less at risk than in the case of households of two adults with one dependent child (6.1 %). On the other hand, for children living in households of the two adults with three or more dependent children, the share was 10.6 %.
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 with 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.
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 2011 version. It has the following categories:
- ISCED 0 — early childhood education
- ISCED 1 — primary education
- ISCED 2 — lower secondary education
- ISCED 3 — (upper) secondary education
- ISCED 4 — post-secondary non-tertiary education
- ISCED 5 — short-cycle tertiary education
- ISCED 6 — Bachelor’s or equivalent level
- ISCED 7 — Master’s or equivalent level
- ISCED 8 — Doctoral or equivalent level
EU average: EU aggregates are computed as the population-weighted averages of national indicators.
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.
- Living conditions in Europe - housing quality
- Housing statistics
- Income distribution statistics
- Living conditions in Europe - material deprivation and economic strain
- People at risk of poverty or social exclusion
Further Eurostat information
- Analytic report on subjective well-being
- Quality of life — Facts and views
- People in the EU: who are we and how do we live? — 2015 edition
- Being young in Europe today — 2015 edition
- The risk of poverty or social exclusion affected 1 in 4 persons in the EU in 2014
- Children were the age group at the highest risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2011 — Statistics in focus 4/2013
- 23 % of EU citizens were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2010 — Statistics in focus 9/2012
- Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2012 (DG Employment)
- In 2011, 27 % of children aged less than 18 were at risk of poverty or social exclusion — News release
- In 2011, 24 % of the population were at risk of poverty or social exclusion — News release
- The 9 poorest countries catching up on income per capita — Statistics in focus 16/2011
- 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)
- Employment and social inclusion indicators
- Europe 2020 indicators
- Income, social inclusion indicators and living conditions
- Quality of life indicators
Methodology / Metadata
- Income and living conditions (ESMS metadata file — ilc_esms)
- Measuring material deprivation in the EU — Indicators for the whole population and child-specific indicators Methodologies and working papers
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- 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
- Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2012 (DG employment)
- OECD — Better Life Initiative: Measuring Well-being and Progress
- OECD — StatExtracts — Income distribution — Inequality: Income distribution — Inequality — Country tables
- Social Investment Package (DG employment)
- The social dimension of the EUROPE 2020 strategy — A report of the social protection committee (2011)
- Poland was not taken into consideration given the low reliability for ‘foreign country’ data.