Israel Is Fourth in Child Poverty in Developed World, Unicef Says

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Siblings from a Nahariya household that lives below the poverty line, which is 8,500 shekels a month after tax for a family of five.Credit: Adrian Herbstein

Israel ranks fourth in child poverty in the developed world, a Unicef report released Monday says. 

Child poverty in Israel has increased from 35.1 to 35.6 percent, placing it behind Greece (40.5 percent), Latvia (38.2 percent), and Spain (36.3 percent), said the report, which warned that “the longer these children remain trapped in the cycle of poverty, the harder it will be for them to escape.”

Overall, the number of children living in poverty in affluent countries has increased by 2.6 million since the global recession began in 2008, according to the report released by the branch of the United Nations, entitled "Children of the Recession: the Impact of the Economic Crisis on Child Wellbeing in Rich Countries." The total number increased to an estimated 76.5 million.

However, the relatively mild increase in child poverty in Israel placed it on the 19th place among the 41 countries surveyed. 

While fourth in child poverty, Israel had the highest rate of young adults who are not in education, employment or training, with 30.7 percent.

“Even when unemployment or inactivity decreases, that does not mean that young people are finding stable, reasonably paid jobs. The number of 15-to-24-year-olds in part-time work or who are underemployed has tripled on average in countries more exposed to the recession,” the report said.

Norway registered the lowest rate of child poverty – 5.3 percent, down from 9.6 percent in 2008. Chile saw the most rapid drop in child poverty, falling from 31.4 percent to 22.8.

The report noted that countries that responded to the recession by adopting economic stimulus packages and raising public spending has helped buffer children from the crisis, and suggested other countries do the same.

"Failing to respond boldly could pose long-term risks,” the report concluded.

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