Children growing up in chronically poor families are more likely to be deprived of basic necessities such as food, clothing, child care, and learning materials — as well as opportunities to participate in social activities, and the right to live in an unpolluted and healthy environment. Consequently, such children are at a higher risk of adverse outcomes in their physical, cognitive, social development, and their life chances in adulthood may also be negatively affected.
By using the Taiwan Birth Cohort Study (TBCS), Drs. Wan-Lin Chiang and Tung-liang Chiang from National Taiwan University College of Public Health explored the phenomenon of persistent poverty for children within the first 5 years of life as well as associated risk factors in Taiwan. The study was published in Child Indicators Research in June of 2018.
Almost a quarter of the 18,506 children in the TBCS had experienced poverty before the age of 5 years, but only 6.0 percent lived in persistent poverty, which was much lower than the proportion of children living in persistent poverty in other developed countries, such as the UK (13.8 percent) and Canada (15.9 percent). The study also revealed that similar to the determinants in other developed countries, the major determinants of persistent child poverty in Taiwan were parental unemployment, low educational attainment of parents, single-parent families, and foreign-born mothers. The authors speculated that the relatively low prevalence of single-parent families in Taiwan may explain the lower persistent child poverty rate. Only 8 percent of Taiwanese 5-year-olds lived in single-parent families, whereas the comparable figures for the UK and Canada were 17 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
UNICEF has called for an end child poverty by 2030. Based on the TBCS findings, the authors suggested that to combat child poverty, the government should provide job opportunities and social support to adults with children, and in particular, socially disadvantaged families should be targeted for support.
Chiang WL, Chiang TL. Risk factors for persistent child poverty during the first five years of life in Taiwan Birth Cohort Study. Child Indicators Research 2018;11(3): 885–896. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12187-017-9463-x.