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‘Every second extreme poor’ in the world is a child: Report

  • Category
  • Published
    15th Sep, 2023


According to an assessment named “Global Trends in Child Monetary Poverty According to International Poverty Lines” by World Bank and UNICEF, India has some 52 million children in extreme poverty and every second poor in the world is a child.

A new global poverty line was adopted from mid-September, 2022, with the World Bank updating data on its Poverty and Inequality Platform.


Highlights of the assessment

  • As per the report, World’s extremely poor population is living below the international $2.15 (Rs 178.38) poverty lineand is increasingly being added by children.
  • In 2022, children accounted for 5 per cent of the total extreme poor population in the world.
  • This assessment of child poverty is based on the new poverty line of $2.15.
  • Key findings:
    • Poor children are mostly found in two regionssub-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 per cent of extremely poor children in the world.
    • The assessment showed that in 2020 — the onset year of the pandemic — child poverty increased, breaking the trend of consistent decline.
    • 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.
    • For India: According to the assessment, 5 per cent children live in extremely poor households.

Reasons for rising poverty amongst Children

  • Income Inequality: Growing income inequality within societies can lead to a concentration of wealth among a small portion of the population, leaving many families, including those with children, in poverty. As the rich get richer, the poor struggle to make ends meet.
  • Lack of Access to Quality Education: Children living in impoverished households often lack access to quality education. This educational disadvantage can perpetuate the cycle of poverty as they may not acquire the skills and knowledge needed for better job opportunities in the future.
  • Healthcare Costs: High healthcare costs, including medical bills and insurance premiums, can push families into poverty, especially if they have a child with a chronic illness or disability. Medical expenses can quickly deplete a family's financial resources.
  • Family Structure: Single-parent households, often led by single mothers, face a higher risk of poverty. This is because a single income may not be sufficient to cover all family expenses, including childcare and housing costs.
  • Unemployment and Underemployment: A lack of job opportunities or access to only low-paying, part-time, or temporary work can lead to poverty among parents and, consequently, their children. High unemployment rates can exacerbate the problem.


  • Poor Health Outcomes: Children living in poverty often face inadequate access to healthcare, proper nutrition, and safe living conditions.
  • Limited Opportunities: Children in poverty often have fewer opportunities for extracurricular activities, such as sports, arts, and music, which are essential for their social and emotional development.
  • Cycle of Poverty: Child poverty can perpetuate a cycle of disadvantage. Children born into impoverished families are more likely to experience poverty as adults.
  • Mental Impact:Addressing child poverty is not only a moral imperative but also an economic necessity for society as a whole.
  • Increase in Crime rates:The poverty can drive children into illegal works and vulnerable to drag into criminal activities.

Government Interventions

  • The Govt. of India has expanded social protection programmes substantially in 2020–2021 to address the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • With over 206 million individuals covered, India’s PradhanMantri Jan DhanYojana (PMJDY)programme is the world’s largest COVID-related cash transfer scheme.
  • India has also shown significant reduction in the multi-dimensional poverty rate, from 55 per cent (2005–2006) to 28 per cent (2015–2016), with 35 per cent among children.
  • However, still a lot families are ultra-poor and more importantly a large of families are on the verge of poverty line, a shock and stress in their life pull them down back to the poverty line.
  • Other schemes includes;
    • POSHAN Scheme
    • Mid-Day Meal Scheme

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