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One child in six lives in poverty in Belgium

09:07 13/12/2023

One in six children in Belgium is living in poverty, according to the latest report by Unicef's Innocenti global research and foresight office.

“For most children, this means they risk growing up without sufficient nutritious food, clothing, school supplies or a warm place to call home,” said Bo Viktor Nylund, director of Unicef's Innocenti office.

Long-term poverty can result in negative outcomes when it comes to a child’s development, schooling, physical and mental health, professional future and life expectancy.

Children living in single-parent households are especially vulnerable to poverty – five times more likely to wind up living below the poverty line than others.

The report found that children with disabilities and from minority backgrounds are also more affected by the problem.

Income-related child poverty in Belgium averaged 14.9% between 2019 and 2021, with 8.3% of children living in substandard housing in 2020.

This is nevertheless a reduction of 53% compared to a hypothetical scenario in which Belgium’s current social safety net does not exist.

Comparatively, child poverty is on the rise in countries such as France and the UK and a total of 69 million children live in poverty in the 40 richest countries in the world.

Given the effectiveness of Belgium’s social protections, the report calls for further development and for universal access for all to basic services such as childcare and free education, along with the creation of job opportunities with adequate pay and family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave, and for measures tailored to the specific needs of minorities and single-parent families.

Written by Helen Lyons