Children and Poverty

Author: Alejandro Grinspun
Thematic Area: Social Protection

Abstract:"As like some endless war, poverty is destroying innocent lives. Among its most hapless victims are millions upon millions of children who are born into poverty or become impoverished during childhood owing to events outside their control. It is not just that children find their own fate being shaped by life’s chances rather than themselves. Children also are poverty’s innocent victims because their voice is rarely counted and, too often, discounted. Children cannot vote. They cannot form assemblies or petition authorities for programs that could alleviate some of the conditions they are suffering. In the official statistics of most countries, children often are not even included. Children’s virtual absence from policy debates on poverty is particularly poignant considering that they typically are over-represented among the poor. When a family is poor, for every deprived adult there may be two or more children suffering the ill consequences of poverty. In poor households, parents may try everything to meet their children’s basic survival needs, often at their own expense. But among better-off families, children may surprisingly suffer from want because they are not receiving their corresponding share of resources. Apart from compromising one’s childhood — a time to be filled with play, exploration, and discovery of one’s self and others — poverty at this early stage in life has enduring consequences for those who survive into adulthood. It condemns them to recurrent poverty spells or even a life full of hardship, increasing the chances of passing their poverty onto the next generation. It is difficult to imagine how poverty cycles can be broken without severing the ties that transmit disadvantage over time — over a person’s lifespan as well as between generations. At the same time, the fact that poverty during childhood has such harmful and lasting effects suggests that well-conceived and timely interventions in early childhood could go far to address or prevent destitution later in life. It should be no surprise that the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda has placed heavy emphasis on promoting policies that improve the lot of children living in the world’s poorest countries." (...)

Keywords:Children, poverty
Publication Date:
Type/Issue:Policy In Focus/2