Child poverty in Britain: causes and consequences

Document type
Report
Author(s)
Barnes, Matt
Publisher
NatCen
Date of publication
2 August 2010
Subject(s)
Children and Young People, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Collection
Social welfare
Material type
Reports

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This report draws on many different strands of NatCen research and gives a sophisticated analysis of the causes and consequences of children living in poverty. It has important things to say about the number of children who experience poverty and the complicated relationship between poverty and other social factors. Some key findings are:

  • More children experience poverty than previously thought. Official measures put the number of children living in poverty at 20%, but this study shoes that 38% of children have experienced poverty at least once in their lives.
  • Children move in and out of poverty, but a significant number (12%) remain in persistent poverty for three years or longer.
  • Poor outcomes for young children may also be the result of a family's size or parents' health and education, and often these factors go hand in hand with poverty.
  • Having a family bread winner does not guarantee that a child stays out of persistent poverty. Seven per cent of couples with one parent in work experience persistent poverty.
  • Public opinion is divided on whether child poverty is a problem. Nearly half, (41%) thought there was very little child poverty, while just over half (53 per cent) thought there was quite a lot of child poverty.
  • The causes of poverty may have been misunderstood by the general public. This study shows that very few poor parents are dependent on alcohol or drugs and family breakdown does not directly lead to child poverty, although these are frequently seen as the causes of child poverty.

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