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In 2009, according to the EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), 8.7% of all children 0-17 years were living in consistent poverty and 18.6% were at risk of poverty - that means living in families whose income was below 60% of median income.
Parental unemployment is the single biggest factor in child poverty. Non-working households account for a significant proportion of children in poverty. The level of social welfare payments, especially child income support is another key factor. Child benefit, paid to all children towards the cost of rearing a child, has been increased significantly in recent years. Families on social welfare also receive child dependant allowances. These combined payments do not adequately meet the costs of child rearing.
Children at Risk of Poverty
Children living in one parent families or in families with four or more children have a high risk of poverty. A greater proportion of children than adults face a risk of income poverty in Ireland.
Children not living in households are not counted in the above figures. Other children at high risk of poverty include children living in temporary accommodation such as bed and breakfasts or living homeless on the streets, Traveller children, children seeking asylum and children leaving institutional care.
The Effects of Poverty
Poverty for children means that they are excluded from doing things that are considered normal in society because of inadequate income in the household. Child poverty has a long-term effect. It makes a difference to children’s health, their educational achievement, how long they will live, how well they develop physically and mentally, what kinds of jobs they get, as well as on their overall life opportunities. A study by Combat Poverty, Against All Odds, highlights the impact of poverty on children. This included bullying in school because of pressure to fit in and not being able to afford the brand name clothes their friends have.
The longer a child is poor, the greater the deprivation they will suffer in later life. According to studies by UNICEF, children from poor households are much more likely to do poorly in school, to become teenage parents, to spend time in prison and to have difficulty finding or keeping good jobs.
Facts on Child Poverty and Disadvantage in Ireland
Our website: the Poverty in Ireland section has comprehensive information on poverty and social exclusion in Ireland.
Our publications: go to our online publications catalogue where you can search for publications by subject.
Our library: our library has an extensive collection of resources on child poverty.
Other websites: go to our links page for listings of other sources of information on poverty and social exclusion.
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