Child Poverty in Romania

The good news: In a statistic on child poverty, Romania is just one spot behind the USA, one of the richest countries in the world. That’s a remarkable achievement for a country which had to rebuild its economy from scratch after the fall of communism only 25 years ago.

The bad news: The USA are second to last in that league.

child poverty chartPlease note that this chart depicts relative child poverty, which will be at a different level in each country of course. The introductory comparison between rich and poor countries is thus less relevant. It is more a question of inclusivity, distribution and the state’s priorities.

Generally, these statistics have to be read with a lot of caution. If the data are collected nationally, they might already be incomparable due to that. Then, household income is far more relevant for a child’s well-being in countries where fewer services are provided by the state. If school and medical care are free (or tax-payer funded), the parents’ low income must not have the same negative effect as in countries where you need to pay for school and for each vaccination.

As to applying the median income as a reference point, good arguments can be made for the equality versus the sufficiency view. Yet it would still be more helpful (particularly for developing policies) to see what percentage of children are undernourished or malnourished (which includes obesity, which could well be a problem in rich families), what percentage go to work or school at what age, how many don’t have electricity or running water at home, how many children haven’t seen a doctor in years, and so on. Because in the very extreme, living at 50% below the national median income may simply mean that children have an iPhone 4 instead of an iPhone 7.

Lastly, the chart above actually doesn’t depict child poverty but family poverty. Theoretically, it is possible that a child in a poor family is better off than the child of a rich family. In reality though, a child’s future is often determined by how they grow up, and a lot of talent and potential is wasted by not raising people out of poverty. Beyond the individual suffering, this is the real social problem.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Economics, Romania, Statistics, USA and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Child Poverty in Romania

  1. brokenradius says:

    Hi Andreas, did I got it right, that this chart shows the wealth of kids relative to the rest of the society ? So a country where the kids would suffer from social-economic deficits in the same degree as the pensioners would than have a score of 1 and lead the rank.
    Greetings, Michael

    • Exactly, that’s why I think these “relative poverty” charts are not too useful. If everyone is extremely poor but at the same (low) level, nobody will be 50% below the medium. The “relative poverty” level might be 0, but people would starve every day.

      In all fairness, the list only includes countries where there is some level of national or average wealth, so that we can exclude the possibility of such extreme scenarios.

  2. Gaeleigh says:

    Must say these kind of stats are kind of useless.

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