Child poverty to affect 23% without economic recovery

Over the course of the 2008 recession in Ireland, children suffered the worst outcomes on all poverty measures.
By Conall Ó Fátharta
Irish Examiner Reporter

Child poverty rates could skyrocket by one-third to 23% unless there is an economic recovery by the end of the year.

That is according to a new report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) which examines how child poverty rates will evolve in the coming months in the face of widespread job losses as a result of Covid-19 and the resulting emergency income-support measures from the government.

Over the course of the 2008 recession in Ireland, children suffered the worst outcomes on all poverty measures. 

The ESRI pointed out that as the national unemployment rate increased from 5% in 2007 to a peak of 15% in 2012, children’s material deprivation – an inability to afford basic items – increased from 16% to 32%.

The study found that, without an economic recovery in the second half of the year, child income poverty rates could rise as high as 23% - a one-third increase in the rate relative to the start of 2020. 

A partial economic recovery decreases the surge in child income poverty to around 19%. 

The ESRI said that, even with the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) in place until year end, this would bring child income poverty levels only moderately above the level they would have been at in a situation where the Covid-19-related job losses did not occur.

The ESRI study said increases to child dependent elements of certain social welfare schemes may help alleviate the rates of child poverty.

"Policymakers should bear in mind that children now falling below the income poverty line in both our analysed scenarios tend to live in households that experienced large income losses because of employment losses," states the study.

"Policies which increase the child-dependent components of social welfare schemes or universal increases to child benefit would help to combat these income losses. However, a changing composition of expenditure could also counteract some of these income falls."