Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Child poverty: an interview with Mahesh Patel

“A newly unemployed adult is likely to eventually find work. A child who does not eat enough will be stunted for life. A child who drops out of school will probably never resume their education.” Mahesh Patel, UNICEF’s Social Policy Advisor for East Asia and the Pacific

The World Bank measures poverty as living on less than US$1.25 per day. In the European Union, the poverty threshold is set at 60 per cent of the median income. But for children, what is an accurate measure of poverty? Can we measure a child’s experience of poverty through their parents’ income?

The short answer is no. While parents’ income has a direct impact on children, it does not provide a complete picture of child poverty. A new UNICEF study analysing child poverty emphasizes that family poverty often affects children most directly through their access to shelter, food, water, sanitation, education, health and information. When a child is deprived of one or more of these, their experience of poverty deepens.