Child poverty stable in 2018, less long-term poverty

Young people and families | 20-01-2020 11:01

Last year, 264 thousand minors in the Netherlands were living in low-income families, remaining unchanged from the previous year. The number of minors in families living persistently on a low income for at least four years dropped by nearly 5 thousand, ending at 103 thousand. This is evident from the latest figures on at-risk-of-poverty rates, released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

After an increase during the crisis years, the number of children at risk of poverty declined between 2014 and 2017. The group of children living with a long-term poverty risk has become smaller each year since 2015. In 2018, 8.1 percent of all underage children were at risk of poverty; for 3.3 percent, this had been the case for at least four years.

Mainly children in single-parent families at risk

Over 113 thousand children in single-parent families and nearly 147 thousand in two-parent families were at risk of poverty in 2018. This is equivalent to almost one-quarter of all children in one-parent families, who run five times as high a risk as those living in two-parent families. One-parent families have only one breadwinner. They are also relatively more often dependent on income support.

In 2018, a poverty risk for one-parent families with two children meant that they had less than 1,600 euros to spend per month. For couples with two children, this was less than 2,000 euros.

Most families at risk live on benefits

In 2018, two-thirds of minors at risk of poverty were living in households whose main source of income were benefits, usually income support. Compared to 2014, there were more children in families at risk and dependent on benefits (60 percent), while there were fewer children in families at risk with predominantly income from employment: 34 percent, versus 40 percent in 2014.

Most families at risk with work as the primary income source have a salary income. Nearly 55 thousand minors live in poverty-risk families with a salary income. This is one-fifth of all underage poverty-risk children. Nearly 35 thousand children live in poverty-risk families with self-employment as the main income source. The majority concerned self-employment without employees (so-called zzp’ers).

Majority of poverty-risk families live in social housing

In 2018, 84 percent of households with minors and dependent on an income below the low-income threshold were living in rented, usually social housing. Most families with an income above the low-income threshold live in owner-occupied dwellings. Families at risk predominantly live in a terraced house or apartment while those on higher incomes usually live in a detached, semi-detached or corner house. A house with a garden is less likely among low-income households. Of this group, 6 in 10 had a garden while this was nearly 9 in 10 among families above the low-income threshold.

No annual holiday

Low-income families are often faced with financial constraints. For example, 54 percent of families with minor children say that they are unable to take a one-week holiday every year. This applied to 10 percent of families not at risk. Low-income families are also much more likely to indicate that there are insufficient funds to buy new clothes on a regular basis or to purchase a PC, laptop or tablet.

Relatively many children living in poverty in Rotterdam

In 2018, Rotterdam had the highest share of children living in low-income households: 17.5 percent. This is more than twice the Dutch average. Heerlen, Amsterdam, The Hague and Delfzijl complete the top five of municipalities with the highest share of children at risk of poverty. Rozendaal had the lowest share of children living in families below the poverty line, namely 2.1 percent. In Bunnik and Heilo, too, the share amounted to less than 3 percent.

Municipal measures to combat poverty, including special income assistance, long-term income supplements and social benefits in kind, have not been incorporated into the regional poverty figures.