CHILDREN & POVERTY / From the Istat figures a new invitation to look at France

There are over one million and four hundred thousand minors in absolute poverty in Italy, a reality that conditions the present and the future of many children, girls and young people who grow dramatically and who return to our attention from Istat data concerning families continuing in economic difficulties exacerbated by the pandemic, where the new needs of households with minors and more children suffer the most severe consequences of the socio-economic emergency.

Child poverty affects many aspects of children’s and young people’s lives. Health, schooling, education and current and future opportunities are affected. That is why we must intervene to protect and help them, taking into account another major problem concerning the growth in the number of newborns left in the hospital, especially in the Nordic countries, which in 2020 was 186 in Italy in total. As for minors taken from families and declared adoptable in 2019, there are 1,046.

Behind a abandonment there is the fear of not being able to cope. The difficult moment of the shutdown and the epidemiological emergency added to an unplanned arrival have heightened feelings of insecurity and precariousness. There are cases where the couple without job stability, who already have children, do not want to control another being. Others where the partner has gone and the woman left alone denies the child. When he is born with malformations or debilitating diseases, it is the pathological situation involving demanding care that determines the natural parents’ choice to entrust him to another family.

We need a concrete national plan to combat child poverty, which includes material support measures for families and educational support to prevent early school leaving and the increase in educational poverty. We call for an effort that involves: local authorities, schools, associations and voluntary work, as well as all the actors, public and private who can contribute to policies in support of parenthood and not just birth rates. In France, they not only facilitate births, but support the choice to have children in the long term with extraordinary tax breaks and services. French family policy focuses strongly on reconciliation, fertility and the fight against family poverty with global cash benefits and education and care services for families with young children.

Social policies such as free schooling or family-friendly housing solutions are not directly aimed at, for example, fertility, but are of great importance due to settlement easier. In Italy p1.9 million families are in absolute poverty and with a marked increase in prices this year, of more than 6%, these figures may rise sharply because higher consumption does not compensate for inflation, and since absolute poverty is measured by the family’s ability to bear the significant and incompressible living expenses, from food to rent, from care to heating, and this year with inflation above 6% we could have a million more absolutely poor. And all this with a more subdued increase in consumption expenditure of less affluent families (+ 1.7% for the 20% of the families with the lowest consumption capacity, ie almost all families in absolute poverty), which was not sufficient to offset the recovery in inflation in 2021.

The intensity of absolute poverty – which in percentage measures how much the monthly expenditure of poor families is on average below the poverty line (ie “how poor the poor are”) – is constant. The prevalence of families in absolute poverty is confirmed as higher in the south, and among poor families, 42.2% live in the south (38.6% in 2020) and 42.6% in the north (47% in 2020). With reference to the age group, the prevalence of absolute poverty is 14.2% among minors. And short-term interventions like the ones the government decided to increase are not enough (but only for the current year) the individual check universal for the family with disabilities. Work flexibility, financial assistance, structural family benefits for life. And last but not least, a benevolent look towards children: it is the strengths of a society that have children and take care of them.

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