40% of Spanish children live in poverty

Children play on the street in Barcelona. [Stefan Kellner/Flickr]

Spain has the EU’s third highest rate of child poverty, after Romania and Greece. EURACTIV Spain reports.

After the economic crisis and years of austerity, child poverty is on the rise in wealthy countries, according to Unicef. In Spain, the proportion of children living below the poverty line increased by nine percentage points between 2008 and 2014, to reach almost 40%.

While child poverty in general rose significantly, the sharpest increase (56%) was among households of four people (two adults and two children) living on less than €700 per month, or €8,400 per year.

Spain has the third widest gap in the EU, behind Latvia and Cyprus, between the levels of social protection offered to children and people over 65. During the crisis, Spain’s oldest citizens were much better protected than its youngest.

According to the Spanish Statistical Office, cited by Unicef, investment in the social protection of families fell by €11.5 billion between 2009 and 2015.

Unicef also highlighted that families with children, large families, single-parent families and teenagers suffered the most from the effects of poverty.

UNICEF deputy chief: 2016 was ‘one of worst years in history for children’

UNICEF organised a campaign event at the European Parliament on Tuesday (6 December), highlighting the plight of tens of millions of children in conflict and emergency situations going without schooling.

As for Madrid’s response to the crisis, the UN’s agency for children criticised its failure to contain child poverty.

“Social protection policies are very fragmented and very unequal, with little focus on children,” Unicef said. For the organisation, this is due, among other causes, to the strong link between social security and workers’ contributions, and the fact that many of the state’s family aid programmes take the form of tax credits, which have little impact on low earners.

To counter the weakness of the social protection of children in Spain, Unicef has since 2014 been calling for the establishment of a “much more generous” allocation for each child, covering a far broader section of the population.

Child poverty increased in most developed countries between 2008 and 2014, according to the report, and by two thirds in European countries.

This increase topped 15 percentage points in Cyprus, Iceland and Greece and was between seven and nine points in Hungary, Italy, Ireland and Spain.

No European country increased its spending on families, while two thirds even cut per capita spending. On the other hand, pensioners tended to see an increase in the amount of money they received between 2010 and 2013.

Subscribe to our newsletters