There is widespread evidence supporting the argument that measuring monetary poverty and income alone result in inadequate assessments of child well-being. The multidimensional nature of child well-being requires measures which pick up on the individual components to ensure the effective tracking of progress or regression in particular areas and to allow for effective and targeted responses.
A recent study by UNICEF Innocenti on child deprivation, multidimensional poverty and monetary poverty in 29 European countries produced findings that add fuel to the fire as to why we need child well-being measures. In ranking countries according to the degree of child deprivation the study established four main groups:
- Nordic countries and the Netherlands 10% child deprivation or less
- Germany, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia 11-20%
Results were further disaggregated into the sub groups of children with lone parents, children living in large families, children in families where the adults are not employed and/or having lower levels of education. Across all of these countries children within these groups were found to be more likely to experience deprivation and although the living standards of many countries were comparable, they had significant differences in levels of child deprivation. Additionally, even in the majority of rich countries, child deprivation levels were found to be significant.
These results are cause for concern considering the current financial and fiscal crises affecting European countries which risk worsening existing levels of child deprivation and poverty and consequently impacting on overall child well-being. Given that data used precedes the crises, the actual reality of child poverty and deprivation in the region could be much worse considering the trickledown effect of economic shocks at the state level, to households and children. See the diagram below from another UNICEF publication.
Nevertheless, the findings of the study, through a mixture of child deprivation, multidimensional poverty and monetary poverty measures have highlighted specific areas and populations for intervention. The application of these tools to monitor and evaluate over time allow for the identification of components of child well-being and sub populations that are particularly vulnerable to external shocks, they help to build evidence of strategies which prevent impacts and to address existing issues.