Faculty for Social Wellbeing concerned about rise in child poverty
The Faculty for Social Wellbeing has taken note of recent media reports on child poverty and would like to reflect on the changes noted in the Eurostat poverty data between 2005 and 2015.
If one looks at poverty rates without taking social transfers (including pensions) into account, Malta has a relatively lower risk of poverty than the EU. For instance, when considering all age groups, in 2015, 37.5% of the population in Malta were at risk of poverty, compared to 44.6% in the EU28.
However, over the past decade, the figure for Malta has risen more drastically, by 5.6% compared to the 1.5% increase in the EU28. The increases have occurred for both genders, and across age groups, except for those aged between 55 and 64. Although these rates remain, overall, lower than those in the EU, pre-transfer resilience to poverty has declined and suggests the need for firmer action on in-work poverty. Other concerning facts are the rates of poverty among women (adults, not elderly) and non-Maltese nationals.
If social transfers (including pensions) are taken into account, the risk of poverty in Malta is far closer to the EU28 average, which stood at 16.3% in Malta and 17.3% in the EU28 in 2015. The only age groups where Malta’s poverty rate exceeds that of Europe are among those aged 65 and over (21% as opposed to 14%) and among those aged below 18 (23.4% as opposed to 21.1%). It is this group of under18s that has seen the most marked rise in poverty since 2005 (rising by 5.8% as opposed to 1% in the EU).
The Faculty for Social Wellbeing expresses particular concern over the rise in child poverty.
While all forms of poverty are to be vigorously fought, poverty among children deserves particular attention because it occurs at a time in their life which is so crucial to their development and their lifelong prospects.
Children do not get second chances to relive the most important developmental years of their life and research has repeatedly shown that deprivation at this early age has negative implications for health, educational, social and economic outcomes in later life.
There is a pressing need for an in-depth analysis of the rise in child poverty, its causes and consequences, and for definitive action to eradicate child poverty within as short a timeframe as possible.