Richest nations rank high in child poverty league

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Three of the richest countries in the world, America, Britain and Italy, have some of the highest levels of child poverty, according to an international study published today.

Three of the richest countries in the world, America, Britain and Italy, have some of the highest levels of child poverty, according to an international study published today.

Russia is top of the world league with 26.6 per cent of children living below the poverty line. The US ranks second with a rate of 26.3 per cent; Britain is third at 21.3 per cent, while Italy comes in only slightly behind this at 21.2 per cent.

The survey of child poverty across the industrialised world, which is the first to use fully comparable figures, reveals hardly any deprivation among children in the Nordic countries. But the authors highlight shockingly high levels of child poverty in at least a dozen American states, including New York, California, Massachusetts and Arizona, where the poverty levels rival Russia.

The poverty rate among America's single mothers is also the highest in the world, with 59 per cent raising children on incomes which are less than half the typical national income. By comparison 31 per cent of lone mothers in Russia live below the poverty line, 40 per cent in Britain and just 20 per cent in Italy, the study headed by Belgium and American researchers shows.

In Europe, the Czech Republic and Scandinavia have the best records for child poverty with levels of less than 5 per cent. But the problem has increased in Hungary and Poland.

The findings come before world agencies meet in London on Monday to agree international action against child poverty at a conference hosted by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, and Clare Short, the Secretary of State for International Development.

Children brought up in poor households are known to do worse at school and enter lower-paid jobs than other youngsters. But the study of 25 countries reveals how nations with similar standards of living have huge differences in the extent of inequality.

Paul Gregg, of the University of Bristol's department of economics, said: "What is surprising is the gap between countries with standards of living not so far from each other. In Sweden child poverty barely registers, but America has an astonishingly high rate."

Comments