Child Poverty in Eastern Europe
The uncertainty of the Russo-Ukrainian war looms over Europe, affecting trade routes, education and the overall state of the continent. For adults, the conflict is a mere reminder of the post-Soviet Union tensions and Russian aggression that frequent the region. For children, it is a catalyst that causes them to slip deeper into poverty. Child poverty in Eastern Europe is skyrocketing during the Ukrainian war. Fortunately, as rates of child poverty in eastern Europe grow, the efforts to subdue those rising rates are increasing as well.

Causes of Child Poverty

In October 2022, UNICEF reported that an additional 4 million children across Central Asia and Eastern Europe have ended up in poverty, a 19% jump since 2021. Russia accounts for 75% of the entire increase. Ukraine reports 500,000 newly impoverished children. With the third-highest increase, Romania reports about 110,000 new children in poverty.

A 2017 study that the European Parliament conducted found that “poverty often remains a legacy that is inherited.” That is, children born into poverty are more likely to stay in it. A parent’s working status and education help determine child poverty outcomes. At least 50% of children whose parents attained low levels of education were at risk of poverty in 2021. This risk doubles if a child lives in a single-parent household or a large family.

Effects of War on Child Poverty

Though the Russo-Ukrainian war has launched millions into poverty, it is the children who it has most affected. Child poverty in Eastern Europe stood at 40%. Constant warfare has increased the cost of goods all over Europe, and in some parts, the prices have inflated significantly. Eastern Europe’s inflation rose to a 17% average, with Hungary’s rates teetering at 25%, increasing the overall price of goods.

Ukraine is one of the EU’s largest trading partners, with nearly 40% contributing to the totality of EU’s trade in 2021. Many also regard it as Europe’s breadbasket. Russia is another trade capital that is the world’s second-largest oil producer. Almost 12% of the world’s oil exports come from Russia. The inflation that the war caused is one of the reasons for heightened rates of child poverty in Eastern Europe. Because most poor families spend their income on essential items, their children are at risk of not having certain necessities as consumer prices continue to increase. The war displaced many children. Learning institutions have been in the crossfire of the conflict, resulting in their closing and the interruption of childhood education

The Solutions to End Child Poverty in Eastern Europe

In March 2022, Pierre-Alain Fridez released a report on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly. The report outlines solutions to ending child poverty and examines alternative approaches to the issue. These include increasing the amount of funding appropriated for the common goal of alleviating child poverty and reinforcing EU member states’ commitment to the updated version of the European Social Charter. It also means getting those who have yet to ratify the Charter to do so.

Parliamentary encourages the implementation of the European Child Guarantee, an initiative focused on granting children equal access to childcare, education and housing. The Guarantee began in an attempt to curate a more equal society and close the gaps between the drawing up of a plan and its execution. To meet this goal, the European Social Network enlisted the help of the EU which seeks to place an emphasis on the Guarantee’s five major components. Through the Guarantee, children will receive formal recognition as a deprived group whose needs will help tailor specific policies, recommendations and fund allocation. UNICEF aims to end child poverty. So far, it has introduced and incorporated the Social Protection Strategy, a scheme that provides children with social assistance benefits that help increase the standard of living while also lowering child poverty rates. In recent years, it has partnered with other governments and humanitarian organizations including the World Bank. It treats child poverty on a case-by-case basis. This means monitoring trends and analyzing data about child poverty to create an approach that best serves a particular country.

– Dorothy Quanteh
Photo: Flickr