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One in five Brussels children live in poverty
An estimated 21% of children in Brussels are living in poverty, according to a study conducted at the request of the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF).
The figure for the capital is higher than in Wallonia, where 17.3% of children are experiencing poverty and Flanders, where the figure is 8.5%.
“Recent data regarding child poverty confirms the persistence of daily difficulties for many children in our country,” KBF said in its findings, noting that a child is considered to be living in poverty when they lack at least three of the 17 elements considered as essential by the EU to their healthy and well-balanced development.
“With such a high proportion [12.8% overall for the country], Belgium does not fare well in the EU ranking”, the organisation said.
The essential elements include healthy food, a healthy living environment, a household without debt and access to leisure activities.
Apart from stark differences by region, the study also found that children who live exclusively or principally with only their mother are four times more likely to be impoverished.
Although child poverty has fallen significantly across the EU since 2014, the decline is much more limited in Belgium.
Additionally, some member states with overall lower levels of prosperity - such as Slovenia, Estonia and Croatia - boast lower levels of childhood poverty than wealthier countries.
The study also proved a link between poverty and health problems: an impoverished child is three times more at risk of not being healthy.
“Child poverty is and remains a worrying reality, but it is not inevitable,” KBF said.
“Deploying and strengthening targeted policies is a powerful lever to break the vicious cycle of poverty. In this respect, the study offers several keys for better understanding that can be useful for policymakers who want to take effective structural measures to combat child poverty.”
To that end, the research will be presented to around 100 policymakers this week.