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Here are some data to chew on.

There's been a fair amount of discussion of education issues in this thread (quite understandably), and so it may be useful to take a look at measures of child poverty. Unicef publishes Child poverty in rich countries 2005 which is really worth looking at. Unicef examines the situation in the richer countries of the world, which seems to fit the discussion here. The report also has a clear and useful discussion of measurement questions.

Here is a graph you won't find in the report, but which is based on data given p21:

Child poverty rate in percent, 2000 (threshold 50% of median income)
and change from 1991 to 2000

The graph is from the French economics monthly Alternatives Economiques, special number Les chiffres de l'économie 2006. Not online. Label translation/pasting mine.

What's immediately striking is that initial child poverty levels are similarly high in France, the UK, and the US, but that after social transfers (earned income tax credit, welfare benefits, etc) the situations are radically different. The French number jumps way down (though 7.5% is still 7.5% too much), the UK number by a more moderate amount, and the US number hardly at all. Now here we can fairly identify a difference, not so much in the existence of poverty, as in the treatment of poverty.

Here's a second graph, which is not based on the Unicef report, but on Eurostat figures (so no US, I'm afraid). This one also shows the before and after social transfers numbers, plus a measure of "persistent poverty", defined by Eurostat as living in poverty for at least four years together.

Alternatives Economiques, special number Les chiffres de l'économie 2006. Not online. Label translation/pasting mine.

Here again, initial poverty levels are fairly similar, but social transfers bring them down -- more in Germany than in France, for example (though these numbers are for 2001 and there may have been some change since). Useful: EU15 included.

These two graphs don't use the same measure of poverty (Unicef chooses 50% of median income, Eurostat 60% of median income), but we only need look at them relatively rather than absolutely.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 06:26:22 AM EST

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