Global Trends in Child Poverty


    Syllabus: GS2/Issues Related to Poverty


    • World’s extremely poor population living below the international poverty line ($2.15/ Rs 178.38) ) is increasingly being added by children, as per World Bank Group and UNICEF.


    • In 2022, children accounted for 52.5 per cent of the total extreme poor population in the world, up from 47.3 in 2013, according to a new global assessment Global Trends in Child Monetary Poverty According to International Poverty Lines by the World Bank Group and UNICEF.  
    • This is the third such assessment by the agencies; earlier two were released in 2016 and 2020. 
    • A new global poverty line was adopted from mid-September, 2022, with the World Bank updating data on its Poverty and Inequality Platform. The latest assessment of child poverty is based on the new poverty line of $2.15.

    Key Findings of the Assessment

    • Poverty is gripping the children more, or as the assessment showed, “disproportionately”. In 2022, 15.9 percent of the world children population lived in extremely poor households as compared to 6.6 per cent of adults.
      • Every second poor in the world is a child.
    • Children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty. They comprise more than half of those living in extreme poverty, while their share of the population is 31 percent, noted the assessment.
    • In India, 11.5 per cent children live in extremely poor households. In absolute numbers, this translates to 52 million Indian children who are poor.
    • Among the children, the poverty rate is the highest for the 0-5 year age group. Some 18.3 per cent (99 million) of children living in extreme poor households were below the age of five years.
    • The average poverty gap at the $2.15 line of children younger than 18 years is greater (5.1 per cent) than that of adults (1.9 percent).
      • In other words, children live further away from the poverty line than do adults, they are in more severe poverty, and the youngest age group of children are most likely to be living in severe poverty.
    • Like in earlier assessments, poor children are mostly found in two regions — sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
      • Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest rate of children living in poverty at 40 per cent; South Asia has 9.7 per cent. 
      • These two regions together account for 90 percent of extremely poor children in the world.

    Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

    • Child poverty is on a decline but the COVID-19 pandemic put a brake on this progress. 
      • Extreme child poverty has decreased in almost all regions of the world between 2013 and 2022, with the most significant decrease in the East Asia and Pacific and South Asia regions, according to the assessment. 
      • Some 63.3 million children have escaped poverty during 2013-2019.
    • The assessment showed that in 2020, the onset year of the pandemic, child poverty increased, breaking the trend of consistent decline.
      • In 2021, the child poverty again started reducing but not at the rate that of pre-pandemic years.
    • In the absence of COVID-19 we would have expected a reduction of 68.4 million children in extreme poverty between 2013 and 2020, but only actually witnessed an estimated reduction of 29.2 million children, due to pandemic disruptions, says the assessment.

    Way Ahead:

    • Persisting child poverty decisively impacts the global goal to eradicate extreme poverty, a promise made under SDG 1
    • With the right investments and will, there is a way to lift millions of children out of what is often a vicious cycle of poverty.
    • It is more critical than ever that all children have a clear pathway out of poverty, through equitable access to quality education, nutrition, health and social protection, as well as safety and security.

    Source: DTE