Child Poverty In Europe by Rajendraheartz


									Child Poverty In Europe

More than 165 million people in Europe live below the
poverty line. In 18 countries of central and eastern
Europe and the newly independent states (CCEE/NIS)
for which data now exist, 8 have 50% or higher of their
population living below the poverty line. Some 2% of
the population of the European Region lives in absolute
poverty (Fig. 1).

With respect to countries that are members of the
Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD), relative poverty is a significant
reality: for instance, 11% of people were living in
relative poverty in the United Kingdom in 1995 and
13% in Italy in 1999.
The impact of poverty is not equally distributed among
the poor. Women make up 70% of the world population
living in absolute poverty. Children account for around
half of the poor in central Asia.

Unemployment as a cause of poverty and ill health is a
major pan-European issue. In the CCEE, the scale of
this problem has reached an alarmingly high level in
the past decade. Unemployment has been estimated at
well over 20% in Kyrgyzstan and 30% in Tajikistan and
Macedonia. Though the magnitude and the context
differ, unemployment has also been a significant
problem in western Europe in recent decades. An
analysis of the unemployment situation in the European
Union (EU) shows a sharp increase from 3% in the
early 1970s to approximately 11% by mid-1990, with
an overall EU average of 8.6% by April 2001.

The impact of unemployment and poverty on children
and young people, in both western and eastern Europe,
is of particular importance. Youth unemployment is
often associated with social and health problems such
as violence, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, and
crime. In 1998, the youth unemployment rates in 18
CCEE were about double the overall unemployment
rates. This unfortunate trend is also seen in many
western European countries.

Poverty in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Many countries formerly part of the Communist bloc
(the Communist countries of eastern Europe), including
those of the former Soviet Union, have relatively high
levels of poverty. Historians and economists blame the
legacy of Communism for much of the poverty in these
countries. Communist governments owned and
distributed most of their countries’ property and
resources. Leaders of these governments proclaimed
the benefits of this centralized system, but many
people who lived under Communism experienced lower
standards of living than people who lived in countries
with democratic governments and free-market
economies, such as the United States and the nations
of western Europe.

Since the fall of Communism in 1989, poverty in much
of eastern Europe and Central Asia has increased. The
number of people living in extreme poverty in these
areas grew from 1.1 million in 1987 to an estimated
17.6 million in 1998. The fall of Communism ended a
political and economic system in which all people had
been virtually guaranteed jobs and basic needs, such
as food and housing. Sudden uncertainty about the
future led to decreases in the value of currencies in all
formerly Communist countries. Wars and instability
ravaged many of these countries. In the most
devastating conflict, the former Yugoslavia erupted in
violent civil war in 1991. In several formerly
Communist countries, political and economic upheaval
has led to a wide array of problems, including a
dramatic increase in the number of orphaned children.
The high number of orphans has stretched the capacity
of orphanages, and many orphans live in extreme
poverty and suffer from malnutrition, disease, and

Fifty-million European children poverty-stricken

A new report suggests that as many as fifty-million
children may be living in poverty in eastern Europe and
the former Soviet Union.

The study, from the European Children's Trust, was
based on figures gathered between 1993 and 1995. It
says many families are having to leave their children in
state orphanages as they are unable to feed them. And
it warns that, with winter approaching, the situation is
likely to deteriorate. The Trust says a crisis has been
building since the old communist system disappeared,
with more than a-hundred-and-sixty-million people
living below the poverty line in recent years -- twelve
times more than at the collapse of communism.

The report says Western countries should help expand
services preventing family breakdown instead of
providing direct aid. The report says eighty-eight
percent of the population in Kyrgyzstan live in poverty,
while the figure is more than sixty percent in Ukraine,
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Child Poverty Has Grown in Eastern Europe Since

More children are living in poverty in Eastern Europe
and the former Soviet Union today than when the
Berlin Wall fell despite a decade of economic expansion
in the region according to the United Nations Children's

In a stark 192-page report, A Decade of Transition,
Unicef says nearly 18 million children in this region are
living on less than $2.15 (£1.50) a day – a World Bank
yardstick for poverty. It also points to a rising number
of children ending up in institutions or being put up for
adoption by families who are pushed into poverty when
the value of their wages falls.

The children's agency says poverty has risen sharply
since the countries left Communism in 1989, though no
direct comparisons could be made because poverty
statistics were not recorded before then.

The huge majority of the poor children – 16 million –
live in former Soviet Union countries, and a further two
million are in central and eastern Europe. In Moldova,
Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the majority of
children are poor.

The report found huge disparities in the situation of
children across 27 countries in the area, and called for
child poverty to be made centre-stage in national policy

One positive finding was that levels of child mortality
were beginning to fall in some countries. "However,
millions continue to suffer from poverty, ill-health and
marginalization," Carol Bellamy, UNICEF's executive
director, said.

The agency says the number of children in the region –
108 million – is about 13 per cent down from 1989
because of a drop in births. Marriage rates have fallen
and the proportion of children born out of wedlock have
doubled to 22 per cent.

Rises in adoption and institutionalization go hand in
hand, the report says, citing Belarus, where the rate of
adoption rose by 160 per cent from 1989 to 1999, and
the proportion of infants under three in children's
homes rose by 170 per cent. Decreases in domestic
adoptions in Russia were countered by rises in
international adoptions.

The report found a growing gap in health conditions
among the 27 countries examined. In Russia and
Ukraine, for example, one child in seven was
malnourished, while in Albania, Uzbekistan and
Tajikistan, the figure rose to one in three. Falling
education standards were revealed, with less than half
of 15 to 18-year-olds attending secondary school in
central Asia, compared with two-thirds attending in

"Fundamental freedoms have been recognized in most
countries – the right to vote, to express and opinion, to
use one's own initiative and enterprise," Ms Bellamy
said. "But we must not forget the original goals of the
transition, to raise the standard of living and to develop
humane and democratic societies. These goals need to
be reaffirmed.".

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