Children facing precarity: the numbers

The young are the first victims of poverty. In France, a child out of five lives in precarious environments. In the world, 50% of the children are very poor. If the youth in France suffer notably from their parents’ financial weaknesses – which mostly impacts their education – the 1 billion other poor children in the world suffer much worse deprivations, sometimes deadly.


Youth poverty in France: it’s an emergency!


In France, a child out of 19 is born poor


  • 3 million children are poor
  • 30 000 children live on the streets with their families
  • 19,1% of the 18-year-old or less population lives under the international poverty line
  • 26% of the 30-year-old population is poor
  • 33% of poor children live in single-parent families
  • 20% of the French have trouble paying for their children’s school canteen
  • 50% of poor families do not go on holidays
  • 6 generations, that is the time needed for upward social mobility and for a child to overcome poverty
  • 1015€, this is the poverty line in France


A worsening financial insecurity un the lives of the young

In UNICEF’s report, Every child counts, published in 2015, they address an alarming statistic about the young population’s situation in France. A reality that has only deteriorated since the economic crisis of 2008. Indeed, 440 000 children would have since dived, with their families, in precarious situations, bringing the number of poor children in France to 3 million. This is a major step-back, especially if considering that one must account for 6 generations to overcome poverty!


Will a poor child become a poor adult?

As the Observatory of inequalities underlines, rather than speaking about poor children, it is important to speak about children from poor parents, more often children whose parents do not have employment or low-wage jobs. Thus, the restrictions poor families endure are a major burden for their children. Living in a poor family constitutes one of the components that reproduce inequalities, main causes for school dropouts and the difficulties for young adults to find employment.

In the OCED’s study, A broken social elevator?, highlights the extent to which educational mobility is blocked in France. According to this international organization, 6 generations would be needed to attain an average French income for children born in poor families. A social reproduction in the professional world (the children from wealthy families remain wealthy, the children from underprivileged families remain underprivileged) happens just as often in the educational world. Thus, only 17% of children from underprivileged families who did not further higher studies have access to universities.


In the world, half of the poor are children


Facts and numbers on poor children in the world


  • 2 billion children are poor
  • 385 million children are extremely poor*
  • 120 million children live on the streets in the world
  • 90 million children suffer from grave malnutrition
  • 2,6 million infants die every year, notably in Africa
  • 4 children extremely poor out of 5 live in rural areas
  • 10% of children work, of which half live in dangerous conditions


*enfants vivant dans des foyers subsistant avec moins d’1,90 dollar par jour


When poverty leads to children mortality

UNICEF’s report on children’s situation in the world in 2016 was quite straightforward: if nothing is urgently done, 69 million children less than 5 years old will die between 2016 and 2030. The cause? The extreme poverty that restricts these children from potable water and the adequate nutrition. Most of these deaths are linked to diseases that could have easily been avoided or cured. Indeed, 1,4 million children die from diarrhea and pneumonia every year.


60 million children are still not in the educational system

Certainly, the 1 billion poor children are not all victims of food insecurity. However, they are concerned with other important restrictions, in particular the difficulty to access education. Thus, 13% of children aged from 7 to 18 years old have never been to school (a rate that goes up to 16% for girls) and 60 million children who were of age to go to primary school were still out of school in 2015. Again, Sub-Saharan Africa is, by far, the most concerned zone. According to UNESCO’s world report monitoring Education in 2015, the percentage of children in secondary school is 92% in rich countries, while it is only 33% in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, South and West Asia struggle to reach the world average. The authors of the report point out: “the poorest children are four times less likely to access school than the richest children and the probability that they do not finish primary school is five times higher.”

An important issue – still according to the UNESCO – as poverty rates could be divided by two if all students finished their secondary school education!




Credits : Kyle Glenn, Unsplash.