Norway is among the richest countries in the world; in fact, the Human Development Index ranks it first globally. However, by the country’s own standards of development, there are still segments of society which are considered below the line of poverty. Reports on child poverty in Norway reveal some troubling facts about the country’s economically successful image. Here are six important facts about child poverty in Norway.
- More than 90,000 children come from families that are defined as poor. According to UNICEF Norway, this number has doubled since 2000. It is feared that this number will continue to rise if adequate measures are not taken to address the issue.
- According to a report by Norway Today, every fifth child, or about 18, 500 of the country’s total number of poor children, lives in Oslo. Child poverty in Norway is relatively high in metropolitan areas such as Oslo.
- According to the Minister of Children and Equality, Solveig Horne, more than half of poor children come from families with immigrant backgrounds. However, Kari Elisabeth Kaski, the first candidate in Oslo and party secretary of the Socialist Party, says that child poverty is an important issue regardless of immigration status. Kaski also says that child poverty should become a priority issue in the upcoming election in Norway.
- One report shows that though child poverty in Norway is particularly high among certain immigrant groups, approximately half of the children in low-income families are of Norwegian ethnic backgrounds.
- In some low-income neighborhoods, such Nedre Toyen in Oslo, two out of three children are poor compared to one in five in the Kampen area, which is several steps away. Differences in child poverty – depending on the area in Oslo – are substantial.
- The effects of living in poor neighborhoods on childrens’ future opportunities are alarming. A poor neighborhood, where most or all families are poor, does not provide a good network or “social and cultural capital” that can be mutually beneficial to members of the community in getting a job, better education or any other assistance.
Despite these troubling facts, the good news is that as the world’s most developed country, child poverty in Norway is defined differently in relation to the poverty of children globally. It mostly means for children to have little to no resources to participate in life experiences such as birthday parties, a school trip and other experiences that are socially and culturally enriching. Norway is also a welfare state. Generally, there is little difference between children from rich and poor backgrounds in the sense that they get equal education and healthcare among other social services. Further, the number of children who die has decreased by 50 percent in the last 20 years.
Clearly, poor children in Norway still have the resources to give them the best chance of growing up to be healthy, educated and successful adults; however, there need to be government efforts aimed at the underlying causes in order to prevent child poverty in the first place. Only then will these children have access to necessary socially and culturally uplifting experiences.
– Aslam Kakar