Child poverty in Britain: causes and consequences

Document type
Barnes, Matt
Date of publication
2 August 2010
Children and Young People, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

Download (428KB )

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.

Related to Children and Young People

COVID-19 and the career prospects of young people

Briefing on the impact of the coronavirus on young people

UK children's commissioner's UNCRC mid-term review

Summary of the activities of the Children's Commissioner

EU status for settled children

Briefing on the legal position of children within the EU settled status scheme

More items related to this subject

Related to NatCen

The mental health needs of serving and ex-service personnel

Report on the mental health needs of ex-service personnel

Understanding the early years workforce: qualitative research findings

Report on recruitment challenges in the education sector

Parents and time pressure: evidence from time use diaries

Downloadable report examining UK parents experience with time pressure

How does poor mental health in the early years of secondary school impact on GCSE attainment

Briefing on the current crisis in young people's mental health

More items related to this publisher