Fewest number of children in poverty in 25 years but inflation is surging
The group of children in impoverished families in 2020 was at its lowest point in a quarter of a century, according to researchers from Statistics Netherlands (CBS). They report that the number of children living in poverty has been decreasing since 2013, but that still concerns a group of about 221,000 minors with the country more recently seeing record levels of inflation.
The statisticians counted how many children are part of a household that is below the low-income threshold. Statistics Netherlands annually determines when different types of households are at risk of poverty, based on prices, costs and inflation at the time. For example, the poverty line is set at 1,680 euros for a single-parent family with two minor children.
Nearly 7 percent of children live in households at risk of poverty. Just under half of these children have been in this situation for at least four years.
The lives of these children often look different. For example, obesity is more common. While the difference with peers is not that great when looking at how frequently they exercise and smoke, poorer families often have a harder time finding the money for new clothes, holidays, and household heating.
Poverty has not only become less common among children in recent years. In 2020, the number of employed people at risk of poverty fell just below 2 percent. The rate was slightly higher a year earlier, thus marking the seventh consecutive year where the percentage declined.
CBS economist Peter Hein van Mulligen attributes the drop in poverty to the economic situation in recent years. "More people are finding work, and freelancers are finding more assignments. As a result, more people have a higher income."
Inflation has skyrocketed in recent months, reaching a record high in November. That means people are not able to purchase as many items for the same amount of money. Van Mulligan say this can lead to people ending up in poverty more quickly. Nevertheless, the predictions for this year are “favorable” on balance, because people are finding work with relative ease due to the tight labor market, according to the economist. The Centraal Planbureau previously expressed the expectation that poverty will also fall this year and stabilize thereafter.
Relatively speaking, poverty is most common among children who have only one parent in the household. The researchers point out that in such a family only one person is able to earn a living. "In addition, these families more often have to get by on social assistance benefits."
Children with an ethnically diverse background are also more likely to have little money at home. This is especially the case with families from Syria, Eritrea and Somalia. Refugees from these countries are largely dependent on social assistance.
Reporting by ANP