News From Ireland:
Irish Children Among Europe’s Poorest

Melinda Maguire.

By Irish America Staff
October / November 2000

According to a survey conducted by the Combat Poverty Agency, Irish children are the third poorest in the European Union, with one in four living in poverty. They are worse off than children of the majority of E.U. countries, including the poorer countries Greece and Spain.

Over two-thirds of all poor children come from out-of-work families, and children are 1.25 times more likely to live in poverty than adults. A household is deemed to be at the poverty level if a family of four have less than £200 per week to live on, less than half the national average wage.

Seventeen percent of Irish children live in consistent poverty, where low income combined with the family’s inability to pay regular bills, heat the home, provide three meals a day, or buy clothes constitutes deprivation. UNICEF says that Ireland’s child poverty record is the sixth worst among the world’s 23 richest countries.

Child poverty has improved as Ireland’s economic boom has drastically reduced unemployment. However, the boom has left those on social welfare lagging behind employed families as pay raises exceed increases in welfare.

“Things are getting better and that is the good news. But the bad news is that the level of state support for children here lags behind other Northern European countries,” says Brian Nolan, a research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute and author of the report.

“It is quite interesting to see that we are almost as bad as the U.K., because we have a similar approach to social welfare and equally inadequate support for children,” he pointed out. ♦

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