Fac­ulty for So­cial Well­be­ing con­cerned about rise in child poverty

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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