Children in lone parents at greater risk of poverty, report saysWednesday, May 2nd, 2012
Children in lone parent families or whose parents are cohabiting are among those at most risk of poverty, according to a new study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
According to the report, entitled Understanding Childhood Deprivation in Ireland, even after controlling for other factors, children living in lone parent families are at a higher risk of living in poverty. Other risk factors included mothers with low levels of educational attainment and families in which the father is unemployed.
Conversely, poverty rates for children in married families were low.
The study said, “Child-only deprivation (in households that are not also experiencing basic deprivation) is more common in lone parent households where the parent was formerly married, where the parents are cohabiting, where the mother does not work, in lower social classes or where the household reference person has never worked.”
According to the report, 30 per cent of all children “were in households experiencing basic deprivation compared to 23 per cent of the general population.”
The report defines basic deprivation as based on an enforced lack (i.e., cannot afford) of eleven basic items, including food, clothing, heating, furniture and social participation. All of these items relate to the household as a whole or to adult members of the household.
However, the report said that 13 per cent of children experienced what it called child-specific deprivation.
According to the report, the definition of child-specific deprivation was based on thirteen items, viz. food (fruit, three balanced meals daily, protein meals); clothing (properly-fitting shoes, new clothes); play (games, outdoor leisure equipment, regular leisure activity); social participation (celebrations, inviting friends home, school trip or activity); and educational (books, place to do homework).
The report's authors constructed a scale based on children lacking any of these thirteen items because the household cannot afford them. They said that, because of their scale, “13 per cent of children, or just over one in eight, lacks one or more of these items.”
The report says that the differential between child-specific deprivation and basic deprivation can be explained by the fact that many parents are diverting resources or are otherwise able to protect against deprivation specific to children. In 2010, eight per cent of children were in consistent poverty, compared to six per cent of the general population.
by Tom O'Gorman