comparing children family risks
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comparing children family risks


DisciplinaEducacao Comparada5 materiais139 seguidores
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children face the highest risk of poverty 
(figure 1) and social exclusion. 
 30
47,1
40,4
44,1
39,1
36,6
33,7
26,7
37,3
32,8
30,7
28,9
26,2
25
19,6
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
%
 b
el
ow
 a
bs
ol
ut
e 
po
ve
rt
y 
lin
e
children
average
 
Figure 1. Children below poverty line compared to the population average, 1997-2003. 
 
Children can \u201cmultiply\u201d poverty themselves: children of large families have to 
manage with the resources less than the poverty line (figure 2). As a matter of fact, 
children in Estonia can be described as poor in a number of domains \u2013 material 
deprivation, social deprivation, emotional deprivation, neglect and poor health. 
 
15,4
13
14,1
13
15,6
12,7
14,9
13,6 14,1
16,2 16,4
15,1 15,2
18,1
29,6
24,7 24,7
22,9
20,8
20
24,4
10
15
20
25
30
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
at
 ri
sk
 o
f p
ov
er
ty
 ra
te
 (%
)
with 1 child 2 children 3 or more children
 
Figure 2. Poor households with children in Estonia, 1997-2003 (data from the Estonian 
Household Budget Survey). 
 
 31
 
Table 1. Households, individuals and children in poverty (%) by different poverty definitions, 
1997-2002. 
Poverty definition: 60% of the median income 
Categories of the poor/ year 
Equiv. scale 
(OECD) 
1:0.7:0.5 
Equiv. scale 
(OECD, 
modified) 
1:0.5:0.3 
Equiv. scale 
(Estonia) 
1:0.8:0.8 
Subsistence 
minimum 
500 EEK 
(32 Eur) 
Households 
1997 12.9 14.9 13.6 5.4 
2000 14.6 16.1 15.0 3.0 
2002 14.0 16.7 14.4 2.2 
Individuals (children incl.) 
1997 14.5 13.5 16.8 6.8 
2000 16.1 14.9 18.2 3.7 
2002 14.7 14.4 16.3 2.6 
Children 
1997 19.1 14.5 25.1 11.0 
2000 21.1 16.4 26.9 5.5 
2002 18.1 14.4 22.3 3.9 
Single retired 
2000 9.2 22.9 5.1 0.3 
2002 6.9 23.6 5.2 0.2 
Retired couple 
2000 2.2 2.4 2.2 0.5 
2002 3.3 3.9 3.3 1.0 
Single-parent\u2019s nuclear family 
2000 26.9 24.7 32.1 5.2 
2002 28.0 27.9 30.0 2.7 
Hh. with 3+ children 
2000 20.1 14.2 34.1 5.7 
2002 21.5 15.2 27.8 5.1 
Source: Kutsar et al., 2004(data from Estonian Household Budget Survey). 
 
Universal prescription where not-universal measures are used, may give us 
unexpected results. As an example, setting the poverty line on 40%, 50% or 60% of 
the median income expresses a universal prescription. Also average income of the 
households can be universally counted but uncovers differences in distribution of the 
incomes in different countries. As a result, the transitional countries have about the 
same amount of relative poverty as the neighbouring welfare societies. To be more 
specific \u2013 the poverty line in this case will be drawn \u2018among the poor\u2019. The problem is 
that if there is an agreement over some criterion, e.g., 50% of the median income of 
the household, the real distributions behind the percentage are not explored any more. 
 
 32
Also the equivalence scales suggested by OECD (e.g., 1; 0.7; 0.5) may not reflect the 
real situation and should be re-calculated taking real socio-economic situation of the 
country into consideration. The calculation of the poverty line in Estonia proceeds 
from the socio-economic situation of the country and is purposeful for national aims. 
But now the number of the poor is not comparable any more with that of the other 
European countries. In this case, national aims dominate over the universality (see: 
Kutsar et al., 1997). 
 
All this shows how the harmonisation of welfare indicators of families (households) 
and children must be dealt with caution. In the case of transitional countries like 
Estonia, Cypros and Malta (referring to the Atkinson\u2019s Report) the modified OECD 
equivalence scale while applied by measuring poverty rates, has the effect of reducing 
the proportion of children at risk of poverty (table 1). In poorer countries of the EU, 
application of the OECD-modified scale is not adequate because individual 
consumption, especially consumption of children is given inadequately low weight. 
The major risk is that by approaching universally to cross-national comparisons, 
children as well as the families with children can move out of the sight of the 
decision-makers while setting the priorities between short-term and long-term policy 
aims. 
 
The universal measures of poverty are especially critical concerning children because 
in a post-socialist country policy-makers are looking for a balance between policy 
frameworks and rapidly changing reality. They must be quick in their policy 
responses. In a situation of a rapidly changing social reality, they better focus on the 
immediate than the longer-term effects of policy, i.e instead of forward-look, they 
better stick on \u2018fire-fighting\u2019 against the current social problems. 
 
\u2018Children mainstreaming\u2019 (the term by Atkinson et al., 2005) means treating children 
as active social agents, who constitute a structural part of every society. Children have 
their own well-being \u2018here and now\u2019, they are poor and excluded \u2018here and now\u2019. 
Those at risk of poverty are at risk of losing choices and at risk of social exclusion 
from peers. Socially excluded children \u2018here and now\u2019 uncover risks of social 
exclusion for the next generation of children. The low level of children\u2019s well-being 
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today is a basis for their low \u2018well-becoming\u2019 as future adults and low well-being for 
the next generation of children. 
 
Children mainstreaming refers also to the use of child welfare indicators by keeping 
children as subjects on policy agenda. This child-centred approach to welfare 
indicators may uncover unexpectedly powerful impact on the social cohesion of 
societies in a long run. 
 
Literature 
 
Allardt, Erik (1993) \u2018Having, Loving, Being: An Alternative to the Swedish Model of 
Welfare Research\u2019. In: M. Nussbaum, A. Sen. Eds. The Quality of Life. Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, pp. 88-94. 
 
Andrews A., Ben-Arieh A., Carlson M., Damon W., Dweck C., Earls F., Garcia-Coll C., Gold 
R., Halfton N., Hart R., Lerner R.M., McEwen B., Meaney M., Offord D., Patrick D., 
Peck M., Trickett B., Weisner T., Zuckerman B. (2002) Ecology of Child Well-Being. 
Advancing the science and the science-practice link. Georgia: Centre for Child Well-
Being. 
 
Atkinson A.B., Cantillon B., Malier E., Nolan B. (2005) Taking Forward the EU Social 
Inclusion Process. An Independent Report Commissioned by the Luxembourg Presidency 
of the Council of the European Union. Luxembourg 2005. 
 
Ben-Arieh A., Hevener-Kaufman N., Bowers-Andrews A., Goerge R.M., Joo-Lee B., Aber 
J.L. (2001) Measuring and Monitoring Children\u2019s Well-Being. Dordrecht, the 
Netherlands: Kluwer Acad. Publ. 
 
Fitzgerald E. (2004) Counting Our Children: An Analysis of official data sources on children 
and childhood. Dublin: Children\u2019s Research Centre, University of Dublin, Trinity 
College. 
 
Friedrichs J. (1995). \u2018The Problem of Social Exclusion Indicators\u2019. Social Indicators: 
Problematic Issues. Second Session: 75-82. 
 
Hanafin S., Brooks A.-M. (2005) Report on the Development of a National Set of Child Well-
Being Indicators in Ireland. The National Children\u2019s Office. Dublin. 
 
United Nations (1994) \u2018Information on Social Development Publications and Indicators in the 
United Nations System\u2019. Working Paper No. 7. New York: United Nations Publications. 
 
Kutsar D., Harro M., Tiit E.-M., Matrov D. (2004) 'Children's Welfare in Estonia from 
Different Perspectives'. In: Jensen A-M., Ben Arieh
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