AuthorGiannetto, Andrea; Pagnini, Costanza
ESF support to investing in children Final Report
1 Background
1.1 Key challenges facing children in the EU
Children in the EU can experience different forms of disadvantages, such as poverty and
material deprivation but also difficult access to services that are essential to children’s
outcomes: quality education, healthcare, housing and social services. In the following
sections we present some key figures on the three mai n dimensions in relation to actual
and potential disadvantages that children might experience, in line with those identified in
the EC Recommendation Investing in Children of 2013 (see Section 1.2): child poverty,
difficulties accessing quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) and early school
1.1.1 Child poverty
Child poverty is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon that is not limit ed to
financial and material deprivati on3. Still, monetary poverty of parents is th e main driver
of multidimensional child poverty. Children are mor e at risk of poverty or social exclusion
than the overall population in a large majority of EU countries and children growing up
in poverty or social exclusion are less likely than their better-off peers to do well
in school, enjoy good health and realise their full potential l ater in life.
To monitor the scope of poverty or social exclusion at EU level, a composite indicator
measuring “At Risk Of Poverty and s ocial Exclusion”, referred to as AROPE4 is used.
Eurostat data5 shows that in 20 18 an estimated 24.3 % of childre n (less than 18 years
old) in the EU-28 were AROPE compared with 22.1 % of adults (1864) and 18.3 % of the
elderly (65 or over). Looking at different Member States, the highest percentage of
children at risk of poverty or social exclusion was found in Romania (38.1%) and Bulgaria
(33.7%), followed by Greece (33.3%), Italy (30.6%) and Spain (29.5%). The lowest rates
of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion was seen in Denma rk (15.2%), Finland
(16.0%) and Slovenia (13.1%).
Overall, there has been a decrease in the children AROPE rate at the EU28 level
since 2010. At th at time, 27.6% of children less than 18 were at risk of poverty
and social exclusion, compared to 24.3% in 2018. In particular, decreases were
recorded in 21 EU Member States, with major falls in Bulgaria (-8.2 pp), Poland (-12.9 pp)
and Latvia (-18.3 pp). However, in the same period AROPE rates for children have
increased for the remaining Member States, with increases of 2 percentage points (pp) or
more observed in Italy (2.6 pp), Cyprus (3.7 pp) and Greece (7.5 pp).
1.1.2 Access to Early Childhood Education and Care
Children in the EU also experience different levels of access to Early Childhood
Education and Care (ECEC). Arrang ements for younger children vary in different
countries and it is difficult to provide meaningful international comparisons of participation
3 European Parliament, 2018. Fighting Child Poverty: the role of EU Funding
4AROPE combines three complementary measures: relative income poverty, severe material deprivation and
severely low work intensity.
5 EU-SILC (Statistics on income and living conditions), People at risk of poverty or social exclusion by age and
sex, 2018

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