This report sets out the latest internationally comparable data on
child deprivation and relative child poverty. Taken together, these
two different measures offer the best currently available picture
of child poverty across the world’s wealthiest nations.
Previous reports in this series have shown that failure to
protect children from poverty is one of the most costly mistakes
a society can make. The heaviest cost of all is borne by the
children themselves. But their nations must also pay a very
significant price – in reduced skills and productivity, in lower
levels of health and educational achievement, in increased
likelihood of unemployment and welfare dependence, in the
higher costs of judicial and social protection systems, and in
the loss of social cohesion.
The economic argument, in anything but the shortest term, is
therefore heavily on the side of protecting children from poverty.
Even more important is the argument in principle. Because
children have only one opportunity to develop normally in mind
and body, the commitment to protection from poverty must be
upheld in good times and in bad. A society that fails to maintain
that commitment, even in difficult economic times, is a society
that is failing its most vulnerable citizens and storing up
intractable social and economic problems for the years immediately ahead.
It is for these reasons that this comparative snapshot of child
poverty in the industrialized nations is presented for the
attention of political leaders, press and public.
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