One in four children in Europe are at risk of poverty. According to Eurostat, that means around 25 million children (representing roughly 27% of all children in the EU) were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion” in 2015. These children may be growing up in households suffering severe material deprivation, often with parents or guardians who have few (or no) sources of income to support them.

Poverty is a trap. It means higher levels of stress and worry; it means poorer healthcare outcomes; it means parents being unable to spend as much time and energy with their children, and it means not being able to access good education. The results is children who are unable to reach their full potential, which only perpetuates the cycle of poverty from one generation to the next.

European countries consistently rank among the highest in terms of quality of life worldwide. Yet there is still enormous inequality within the EU (both within and between countries), and the average figures can mask significant poverty at the margins. So, what can we do? How can we help children escape the poverty trap and build a better future?

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Ivaylo, who thinks education is the key to tackling not just child poverty but inequality in general. Is he right?

To get a response, we spoke to Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General of Eurochild, an NGO campaigning on behalf of children across Europe. Did she agree that the answer was education, education, education?To get another perspective, we also put the same comment to Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. How would he respond?Next up, we had a comment from Rosy who thinks child poverty has been getting worse in Europe since the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures. Is she right?

How would Jana Hainsworth from Eurochild respond?Finally, what would Commissioner Tibor Navracsics say to the same comment?Is investing in education the best way to reduce child poverty? Have austerity measures since the 2008 crisis made child poverty worse in Europe? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Geraint Rowland
PORTRAIT CREDITS: Hainsworth – CC / Flickr – EU2017EE Estonian Presidency, Navracsics – CC / WikiMedia – http://kormany.hu
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29 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Ivan

    It depends what the quality of education is. If its just pie in the sky left wing nonsense then no, it needs to be aimed at giving them the skills to work after they leave education.

  2. Larry

    Yes, education, and here I would focus teaching on innovation/creativity, entrepreneurship, latest high tech.

    Required skills change very fast as of late. Chances are that by the time someone finish their education, these will be outdated.
    A better approach, I think, is to provide them with a base to build on and then teach them to navigate/mitigate/work with large amounts of information, which is the reality of this century.
    I would say rather than learning some some skills, one should learn to learn skills as need when needed, in other words, adapt. Today knowledge on most topics is wildly available, in many forms, from books to interactive materials to support discussion groups, people need to learn to use this and adapt to these ever changing demands.

    • Ivan

      You can’t teach ‘innovation/creativity or entrepreneurship’, they are human traits & characteristics, not skills.

    • Larry

      I said “focus teaching on”, I meant “in the direction” of innovation, etc as opposed to a rigid education of certain skills which as with the rapid advent of technology, they will become irrelevant.
      Automation/robotics will soon replace all “routine skills” jobs, from all fields. Machines can work 24/7, they don’t complain and when they break, they can be easily replaced with a spare.
      Like you said, in the future we will have focus on our human traits and characteristics, something everyone has built in, these just need to be nourished and put to use.

    • Ivan

      You had better hope automation/robotics does not replace ‘all’ routine skills as it is known that anyone with an IQ of below 99 is practically unemployable for anything other than the most basic jobs that need routine skills, that’s around 40% of the EU population (200 ish million people) and rising, anyone with an IQ of less than 90 is already unemployable & as the skill level required for work goes up the number of people able to do those jobs will fall. This I think is the real reason for industries love affair with cheap migrant labour.

      Personally I think there will just be new jobs requiring lower skill levels but because of mass migration the number of unemployed & unemployable will both rise.

      https://www.sciencealert.com/iq-scores-falling-in-worrying-reversal-20th-century-intelligence-boom-flynn-effect-intelligence

    • Ivan

      Larry You had better hope automation/robotics does not replace ‘all’ routine skills as it is known that anyone with an IQ of below 99 is practically unemployable for anything other than the most basic jobs that need routine skills, that’s around 40% of the EU population (200 ish million people) and rising, anyone with an IQ of less than 90 is already unemployable & as the skill level required for work goes up the number of people able to do those jobs will fall. This I think is the real reason for industries love affair with cheap migrant labour.

      Personally I think there will just be new jobs requiring lower skill levels but because of mass migration the number of unemployed & unemployable will both rise.

      https://www.sciencealert.com/iq-scores-falling-in-worrying-reversal-20th-century-intelligence-boom-flynn-effect-intelligence

    • Larry

      This his is already happening, even in relatively cheap labour places like china robots are replacing millions of jobs every year.
      And, like I said before, recently there have been a few good breakthroughs in AI, and the industry is currently working towards commercialising that. The impact would be felt, I would say, in five years or so. And it will be major, this technology is cheaper and easier to use and hundreds of times better than what we have now.
      So, if a million or so refugees/migrants wondering around europe scare you, think about loosing millions of jobs every year to automation! And no immigration bill or borders or walls can stop this – this is knowledge and business love it as it cuts down the labour cost, therefor increase profit margins, or at least in a short run until supply-demand kicks in.

      My guess is that there will be a move from mass production(which will still hold for essentials) to custom production, and by that I mean a mix of human perspective/creativity and 3d printing technology and the likes. In a way this is staring to happen already, with all these crowdfunded projects that resemble what future might look like.

      I for one, I would not worry about jobs, people, societies adapt, over the millennia humanity has been put through many challenges and we survived.
      A “job”, anyway, is an abstract term for providing services in exchange for a reward. And in this world there are an infinite number of things to be done to qualify as a “job”.

    • Larry

      Ivan, this his is already happening, even in relatively cheap labour places like china robots are replacing millions of jobs every year.
      And, like I said before, recently there have been a few good breakthroughs in AI, and the industry is currently working towards commercialising that. The impact would be felt, I would say, in five years or so. And it will be major, this technology is cheaper and easier to use and hundreds of times better than what we have now.
      So, if a million or so refugees/migrants wondering around europe scare you, think about loosing millions of jobs every year to automation! And no immigration bill or borders or walls can stop this – this is knowledge and business love it as it cuts down the labour cost, therefor increase profit margins, or at least in a short run until supply-demand kicks in.

      My guess is that there will be a move from mass production(which will still hold for essentials) to custom production, and by that I mean a mix of human perspective/creativity and 3d printing technology and the likes. In a way this is staring to happen already, with all these crowdfunded projects that resemble what future might look like.

      I for one, I would not worry about jobs, people, societies adapt, over the millennia humanity has been put through many challenges and we survived.
      A “job”, anyway, is an abstract term for providing services in exchange for a reward. And in this world there are an infinite number of things to be done to qualify as a “job”.

  3. Max

    Economist here. My thoughts are that it doesn’t have to be THE BEST way. It just has to be A VIABLE WAY. And the OECD publishes official cross-country figures outlining that the Economic Returns from educaiton (The ROI basically) is so sizable that it actually is equivalent to about 2 or 3 years of Asia-Pacific stock market growth.

    So, it makes sense to invest as much as possible.

  4. Ingrida

    Education itself is equal to poverty But worth of trying Who knows… Just on the case you decide to quit, don’t write the name of university in your CV – believe me, you won’t be employed

  5. Ingrida

    Education itself is equal to poverty But worth of trying Who knows… Just on the case you decide to quit, don’t write the name of university in your CV – believe me, you won’t be employed

  6. Róbert

    Investment done by whom? If by a private entity, which in order to sell a useful and high value product, in this case knowledge, has to compete on a free market, then yes. If it’s made by the government, with public funding, indoctrinating children with the official ideology and propaganda, than no. This type of education will eventually rise poverty levels.

    • Ivan

      Well said.

  7. George

    YES !
    In the min time helping their families to escape poverty.

    • Ivan

      By landing them with a degree in Lesbian dance theory and a lifetime of debt ?

      True Capitalism is the only known political system that destroys poverty and the close shop EU will only lead to more poverty.

  8. Jaroslav

    Maybe we should discuss how poverty starts, then we may avoid pointless discussions of how to lift it for a select group of lucky individuals within a small sample of a specific society.

    • Ivan

      Poverty starts with Socialism.

  9. Christophe

    I notice the EU invariably posts pictures of immigrant children. There are thousands of homeless European kids and many more thousands living in poverty. You wouldn’t know it judging by the EU coverage.

  10. Christine

    Education is important so is health including social care and healthy housing and environment and sustainable employment that pays a living wage.

  11. Stefania

    no. la povertà non la sconfiggi con l’istruzione se la società è malata di individualismo. L’istruzione è importante come importante sono i valori di emancipazione sociale. La povertà la sconfiggi con la GIUSTIZIA SOCIALE

  12. Ivan

    Socialism will bring poverty. Always has, always will.

  13. Jude

    Not only education. …they must have a decent shelter to be able to live a decent life,health, and motivation for a better future.

  14. Tea

    Poverty is a symptom of something way larger than education and securing good future job prospects. Moreover, a great number of educated people are unemployed and even when they are employed, they are still largely exploited and underpaid, which to me is a kind of poverty all the same. If there is something we could do about the education, then it’s to focus on how to raise emotionally stable people. Teach them skills how to cope and deal with their emotions. Work from inward instead of focusing always on the outward, on the practical utility we can give to the skills in order to suit the market. People are not robots constructed solely to make money. There is more to them and we constantly ignore it. They have emotions that have to be handled individually. We need people who won’t need money to feel secure, successful and fulfilled so they won’t start wars in the name of it, they won’t be corrupted and steal for it, they won’t exploit people and natural resources for it, etc. etc. And eventually, poverty would not even be a problem because emotionally stable adults would never allow it in the first place. “If we ourselves do not know what is sufficient, we will never think we have enough”, a Thai saying says.

  15. Patrick

    It’s one way that will help, but firstly all children need access to affordable healthy housing, food and health care regardless of socio-economic status.

  16. Jean-Bernard

    Poser la question, c’ est y répondre !

  17. Gina

    the one who wants to learn and study can learn and study for free, at least in Greece. this photo shows a Roma child, who learns that education is not necessary at all.

  18. catherine benning

    @ Ivan:

    There is no doubt whatsoever that socialism after WWII raised the British out of abject poverty. I will add a couple of links that prove this.

    What has not only held back the improvement in the welfare state in the UK, during the last decades, is the ludicrous idealistic belief in our tax payers being able to extend this welfare and give it to the world. Whilst only a handful of the world population on the entire planet, are willing to pay into it.

    The picture here is of an immigrant child, but, what they are trying to sell Europeans with that picture is guilt. Europe is the productive world and immigrant children are therefore our collective responsibility. No matter that our own children are being pushed aside and left in dire need in order to provide for others who do not want to fight to adopt our welfare system in their own countries, against their own failing system or attitudes.

    Add to that the enormity by our politicians acceptance that when these failing countries ship out their poverty stricken to our lands, they expect them to support the family members left ‘back home’ off of our largess. Reducing the economic pie of Europe further to the tune of millions per annum. Go further and also reflect on the incomers who then want to change our culture and tolerance to their own ‘home grown’ intolerance and distortion of what our system calls for. And by so doing will create their own failing society on us. As we are now seeing in the millions.

    When you look into the British parliament to your astonishment you will see it packed with people who are from failing economies and cultures leading us into what they have left behind. As culture and social cohesion does not pass from backward functioning systems to succeeding ones. The ideas gained within those societies remain fixed to the point of total intolerance of different viewpoints and the aim is to transfer them to the one they have invaded.

    So the question here on ‘is investing in education the best way to reduce child poverty’ has to be linked with, depending on whom you are investing in and whether they will be open to adopting for the good of the expectations of those providing the education.

    ” those that are sown on good soil are the ones who accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-4iTQHEsjU

    And

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN3hS0pRZio

    This explains how the present ideology is so way off mark And it is easy to follow.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubGzbj59_Xs

  19. catherine benning

    Is investing in education the best way to reduce child poverty?

    https://qz.com/404367/britain-now-has-enough-african-born-mps-to-form-the-fourth-largest-party-in-parliament/

    This link shows many immigrant children who received educational investment certainly helped them out of poverty. Most of these children somehow ended up with independent, non state, school education in the UK. They are schools that offer proper education. A few of them from Eton at, £40,000 per annum. That is the school of Prince William and his brother. I think a few of these MP’s managed to get their fees covered by the British tax payer through a bursary. This is a selection process of the cleverest child to apply. Some being a fix of course. Whilst at the same time, the ordinary citizen of the UK cannot expect even a good grammar school education for their child, as it is seen by government as ‘unequal’ to offer tax payers bright children, a worthy education. Of course both our party leaders in the UK had Grammar School education, May and Corbyn. But, they openly deny that privilege to others considered bright. As MP’s can always fiddle the bursary selection to what we term as Public School. Odd choice of words for something not at all public. These schools are even better than Grammar as they teach ‘class’.

    Here are a couple of our immigrant connected MP’s who attended British top class education facilities.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-JHnAn0wfk

    And

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSQWSN8T-bg

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