Posts Tagged ‘children’

lives

The third part of “Children of the Recession,” UNICEF’s report on “the impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries,” focuses on Gallup Poll data about people’s experiences and perceptions of the most recent crisis of capitalism.*

In 18 of the 41 countries, three or more of these indicators reveal rising feelings of insecurity and stress from 2007 to 2013. The most severely affected countries—including the United States—are clustered at the bottom of the table.

In terms of its impact on personal experiences and perceptions, the Second Great Depression is certainly not over. In 13 countries—again, including the United States—negative responses to three or four questions were still rising between 2011 and 2013, particularly in countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey.

 

*Due to data availability, the numbers in the table refer to the population in general, not to families with children. Countries are ranked based on their average score across the four indicators, each of which measures how responses changed between 2007 and 2013. The highest number indicates the sharpest change. Column 5 indicates how many of the responses to the four were negative over the full period.

child-poverty

A new UNICEF report shows that 2.6 million children have sunk below the poverty line in the world’s most affluent countries since 2008, bringing the total number of children in the developed world living in poverty to an estimated 76.5 million.*

In 23 of the 41 countries analyzed, child poverty has increased since 2008. In Ireland, Croatia, Latvia, Greece, and Iceland, rates rose by over 50 per cent.

In the United States, the overall poverty rate for children rose from an already high 30.1 percent in 2008 to 32.2 percent in 2012.

The report also explains that, in recent decades, the social safety net in the United States has favored the working poor more than the out-of-work poor. Thus, for example,

Among those at or below 100 per cent of the poverty threshold, a large decrease in earned income and TANF in 2010 is offset by large increases in food stamps and the EITC. There was also a modest increase in unemployment insurance. For this group as a whole, the increase in child poverty was lower during this recession than it was in 1982.

For those at or below 50 per cent of the poverty threshold – the extreme poor – the story is somewhat different. Panel B still shows a large decrease in earned income and TANF and a large increase in food stamps, but it also shows a much smaller increase in the EITC and a slight decline in unemployment insurance, in contrast with the situation of the regular poor.

This highlights how the United States safety net has changed to provide more support for poor working families and less for the extreme poor with no work. As a result, extreme child poverty has also increased more in this recession than in the recession of 1982, indicating that the safety net was stronger for the poorest children 30 years ago.

 

*The UNICEF report uses a fixed reference point, anchored to the relative poverty line in 2008, as a benchmark against which to assess the absolute change in child poverty over time. This change is calculated by computing child poverty in 2008 using a poverty line fixed at 60 per cent of median income. Using the same poverty line in 2012, adjusted for inflation, the rate is computed and the difference in the two rates is shown. A positive number indicates an increase in child poverty. (Using a relative poverty line each year would obscure the impact on poverty of an overall decline in median income. In the United Kingdom, for example, relative child poverty decreased from 24 per cent in 2008 to 18.6 per cent in 2012 due to a sharp decline in median income and the subsequent lowering of the relative poverty line. Using the anchored indicator, it actually increased from 24.0 per cent to 25.6 per cent from the start of the recession.)

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Maybe now that the proportion of unemployed workers on jobless benefits has fallen to an all-time low (thereby undermining John Boehner’s belief they don’t really want to work and prefer to just sit around, relying on government handouts) but the number of poor people remains at an all-time high, perhaps it’s time to take another look at Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” to advance the public good, relieve the poor, and give some pleasure to the rich:

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couple, who are able to maintain their own children, (although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom) but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand, for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remain an hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, How this number shall be reared, and provided for? which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses, (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing till they arrive at six years old; except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier; during which time they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers: As I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me, that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old, is no saleable commodity, and even when they come to this age, they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half a crown at most, on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriments and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragout.

Of course, Swift’s proposal would work even better in our own times, since according to conservative thinkers the lives of the poor are even better—which means their children should be even more delectable. In addition, even though the one percent have given up their role as “job creators,” their escalating incomes should be sufficient to purchase infant flesh. And, as Swift explains, because “they have already devoured most of the parents, [they] seem to have the best title to the children.”

Update

These days, of course, as a friend of mine informed me, many of the the rich prefer to eat only free range and organic and to deal directly with the breeder rather than through an unscrupulous supplier.

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