The number of families experiencing extreme poverty is growing
in the European Union and many millions of people in the EU are not able to meet their basic needs.
More than 20% of children under 16 years are poor in Europe. The highest rates of poverty are observed in Romania, Bulgaria and Spain. Children are poor because they live in a poor family
. Either the family income is to low (low salaries, unemployment, job instability, part-time…), or there are too many family members sharing one (in the case of a single parent) or two incomes. Countries offering a higher level of social protection reduce partially the dependence of poverty on the family situation.
An integrated approach enabling families to reconcile their work and family life
will support more sustainable and long-term solutions. To reconcile, in COFACE’s view, means implement a mix of policies combining (1)
access and provision of resources, including benefits and allowances, (2)
access to quality, affordable and accessible services and (3)
flexible time arrangements.
In Europe, single-parent families are the most affected by poverty
. The lowest poverty rates of single-parents families are in Denmark and Finland. The highest are in Bulgaria, Germany and Spain. The high extent of poverty of single-parent families is due to the fact that their resources are based only on one income, which is shared by all family members. But here also, depending on the level of social protection, countries could balance the situation.
Many sociological studies have shown that the family is ultimately the first social safety net in an economic crisis. Our political leaders would do well not to forget that. Families are paying the cost of the crisis in more ways than one. Read more
Recent data confirm that children are more vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion than other groups in the European Union, reporting a higher risk of poverty (20%) compared to the overall population (17%). The risk increases to 25% for children who live in large families, and exceeds 30% for the ones living with lone parents.
Poverty and social exclusion are largely known to be determined by socio-economic, cultural and environmental conditions that are often transmitted from generation to generation, with the consequence of deepening the income divide and perpetuating societal inequalities. Wellbeing in childhood largely shapes the future adult, recalling the need to prioritize children’s development.
COFACE stands for a recognition of the fundamental role that various policies supporting families can play for the prevention of poverty, breaking its inter-generational transmission and attaining the highest levels of child well-being. COFACE also stands for a coherent EU approach to family policies and the child-rights agenda at EU level.
Published on 09 Nov 2011
Updated on 23 Jun 2015