Posts Tagged ‘children’

Chart of the day

Posted: 9 July 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

child poverty

Is there any statistic more illustrative of the nature of contemporary capitalism—especially the effects of the global financial crash and of the so-called recovery—than the rate of child poverty?

According to the most recent UNICEF report (pdf),

The number of children entering into poverty during the recession is 2.6 million higher than the number that have been able to escape from it since 2008 (6.6 million, as against 4 million). Around 76.5 million children live in poverty in the 41 most affluent countries.

In Greece, the child poverty rate almost doubled between 2008 and 2012, from 23 to 40.5 percent! (No doubt it is higher today.)


Not only have the rate and absolute number of poor Greek children risen dramatically, but they have done so in the context of increased severe material deprivation. The proportion of children who are income poor and severely deprived has tripled in Greece between 2008 and 2012.

There ‘s been a great deal of moralizing about Greek debt in recent years. Any new deal for Greece that does not attempt to mitigate the effects of the current crisis on its children fails the most basic test of economic morality.


Special mention

E7BACEDA-37C9-4968-A795-7531B41582D5_590_392 www.usnews


Special mention

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While mainstream economists continue to discuss and debate their favorite topics—when to hike interest rates, the appropriate measure of capital, how to apply monetary rules, the outcome of debt negotiations in Europe, and much else—they never mention one obvious fact: capitalism kills. In particular, it kills babies and middle-aged people.

According to Alice Chen, Emily Oster, and Heidi Williams [pdf], capitalism kills babies. The United States, for example, ranks fifty-first in the world in infant mortality—comparable to Croatia, despite an almost three-fold difference in income per capita. But, as it turns out, it’s not differences at birth that explain the low ranking of the United States; it’s the high rate of postneonatal deaths. And that high rate (e.g., in comparison to Finland and Austria in the authors’ study) is “due entirely, or almost entirely, to high mortality among less advantaged groups. Well-off individuals in all three countries have similar infant mortality rates.” In other words, the high level of infant deaths in the United States are almost entirely a consequence of the grotesque levels of economic inequality that capitalism has created within the United States.

We also have to admit that capitalism kills middle-aged people. In a study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Katherine A. Hempstead and Julie A. Phillips found that suicide rates among middle-aged men and women in the United States have been increasing since 1999, with a sharp escalation since 2007. Their conclusion is that

Relative to other age groups, a larger and increasing proportion of middle-aged suicides have circumstances associated with job, financial, or legal distress and are completed using suffocation. The sharpest increase in external circumstances appears to be temporally related to the worst years of the Great Recession, consistent with other work showing a link between deteriorating economic conditions and suicide.

What’s the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Well, in this case, preventing neonatal deaths and middle-aged suicides should start with eliminating capitalism.


Whatever happened to the idea of providing affordable, professional, on-site childcare for America’s families?

Yes, such childcare [ht: sm] did exist—for a few years (1943-45), in a few enterprises (the Kaiser Company shipyards in Oregon and California). The workers in those shipyards paid a nominal fee to leave their children (initially, from the ages of 2 to 6—but then expanded down to 18 months and up to 12 years) in Kaiser Centers, where they received food, exercise, and an education provided by trained staff who were paid the same as workers in the yards [pdf].


Now, of course, few employer-sponsored childcare centers exist—and the price of decent childcare is beyond the reach of many U.S. households.

We did have it once, as the Kaiser Centers prove. And we could have it again—either as an employer-provided benefit or, even better, as a universal, government-sponsored program.

But workers would have to demand it—in the name of their children—as a useful way of capturing and spending a portion of society’s surplus.


*No, I’m not trying to channel The Simpsons’ Helen Lovejoy.



Yes, that’s right: for the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. In 40 of the 50 states, low income students comprised no less than 40 percent of all public schoolchildren. In 21 states, children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches were a majority of the students in 2013.

As we know, a small minority at the top are doing much better during the course of the current recovery. But a large group at the bottom are not doing better at all. They have no option but to send their children to public schools, which are then charged with the responsibility of creating equal opportunity for poor children.

That’s the American way. We permit the growth of grotesque inequalities in our society and then demand that public schools solve all the problems that stem from those inequalities.

But they can’t. No matter how hard public-school teachers try.

Child poverty

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty,

Years after the end of the Great Recession, child poverty remains widespread in America’s largest cities. Nearly three children in five living in Detroit are poor, according to the most recent Census figures, a rate that has grown by 10 percentage points since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007. Most children in Cleveland and Buffalo also live in poverty, as do nearly half the children in Fresno, Cincinnati, and Memphis. Other large cities topping the list for child poverty are Newark, Miami, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. Seven of the 10 cities with the highest child poverty rates have seen them climb by eight percentage points or more since 2007, led by Fresno, with an extraordinary 16 percentage point jump.