Children are among the first victims of poverty. Even in France, one of the world’s most affluent countries, child poverty is still a serious issue today, if not an increasingly urgent emergency. Here are six facts about child poverty in France.
6 Things to Know about Child Poverty in France
- According to a 2015 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), one out of five children younger than 18 years old in France lives below the poverty line. This means that more than 3 million children in France suffer from their parent’s financial struggles and live on roughly less than €1,000 per month, with many actually living on much less. This statistic is astonishing, especially considering that the total population in poverty in France was 8.8 million in 2017.
- In France, 20% of households have difficulties paying for their children’s meals at the school canteen. To cope with this problem, French President Emmanuel Macron announced an €8 billion national anti-poverty plan in September 2018. As a result of this plan, primary schools provided free breakfast to the most impoverished students along with subsidized lunches for €1 each in the school canteen.
- Child poverty in France is more common in single-parent families as these households usually lack financial resources in comparison to conventional families. One-third of impoverished children live in single-parent families, especially those made up of single women and children. As of 2018, single mothers are among the most affected by poverty in France, before immigrants and elderly people. The fraught financial situation and high educational expenses even lead some young women to pay for their children’s studies through prostitution. The students’ union SUD Etudient estimated in 2006 that the number of single mothers struggling to pay for their children’s education was around 40,000 and continues to rise.
- The impoverished family background may produce further inequalities in education and employment. According to the 2015 UNICEF report, 140,000 children were dropping out of school each year. UNICEF also criticized France’s educational system, in which children from unprivileged families have less chance to enter universities, for failing to gear up social mobility and widening the gap between the wealthy and the impoverished instead. UNICEF estimated that it takes six generations for children born in impoverished families to attain an average income in France.
- There are about 30,000 children in France who are homeless and 9,000 who live in slums, many of whom are foreigners without legal status. The charitable organization Secours Catholique, which helps more than 67,000 impecunious people in need in France, claims that more than 40% of the families it assists are immigrants and less than half of them have legal status in France. As a result, they do not have the right to work or benefit from social welfare.
- Nevertheless, thanks to its social service and health care, France remains one of the countries with the lowest child mortality rates despite its issue of child poverty. In fact, the 4% rate of child mortality in France is the same as that in Germany, Spain and Italy, lower than 6% in Canada and 8% in the United States.
These six facts about child poverty in France shed light on the growing poverty problem in a country that is as wealthy as France. However, by shedding light on child poverty in France the government and charity organizations will work to alleviate youth poverty in its early stages.
– Jingyan Zhang