A United Nations study on child poverty in wealthy nations has ranked the United States 34th out of 35 countries.
The report, written by UNICEF, revealed that the US managed only to edge out Romania when it comes to the welfare of children. A staggering one in five children in the United States are now living in poverty. Rather than using a fixed dollar value, UNICEF defined poverty as a child living in a household where the income was less than half the national median, and found that 20% of children in the US meet this criteria.
According to Political Blind Spot:
[box type=”shadow”]Using this definition, the United States ranks nearly all of Europe plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Using one metric of inequality employed by the CIA – a statistical measurement known as the gini coefficient – the U.S. economy is one of the most unequal economies in the entire developed world.[/box]
Of the 35 countries surveyed, the top five countries with the lowest child poverty rates were (in descending order) Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland and Norway.
Because the study used a relative definition of poverty rather than a fixed dollar amount it proved that even though the United States dwarfs countries like Romania and Bulgaria in terms of wealth and income, the relative child poverty rate and levels of income inequality are actually worse in America than the countries listed.
There was more bad news for America when it came to how far below the poverty line children in the US fell:
[box type=”shadow”]The UNICEF report also examines what they call the “child poverty gap,” showing how far below the relative poverty line children fall. This is determined by comparing the relative poverty line and the average income of poor families. The U.S. once again comes in second-to-last. The average poor child living in a U.S. home makes 36% less than the relative poverty line. Using this scale, the U.S. beats only Italy.[/box]
A recent OECD report showed that income inequality has risen faster in the US than any other country on Earth. This report from UNICEF shows that it is America’s children who are the big losers when it comes to income inequality and poverty in the United States.
This has not stopped the Republican Party and its Tea Party faction from cutting billions of dollars from Food Stamps, allowing unemployment insurance to lapse and voting to grant millions of dollars in agricultural subsidies to some of the wealthiest land-owners in the country.
When president Obama addresses the nation in his State of the Union, he must make tackling rising poverty levels and income inequality a top priority. If meaningful and radical action is not taken, the US risks casting one in five of its children on the scrap-heap.