Polly Vizard, Polina Obolenskaya and Kritty Treebhoohun
Published 13 March 2023
This paper has been written as part of the Social Policies and Distributional Outcomes (SPDO) research programme and provides an in-depth assessment of the slowdown, stalling and reversal of progress in reducing child poverty during the second decade of the 21st century and how this affected children from different social groups. The paper provides a more comprehensive and detailed body of evidence on patterns and trends in child poverty during the 2010s by social group than has previously been available. We build-up granular evidence on patterns and trends in child poverty by social group with systematic disaggregation by a wide range of characteristics including characteristics that are protected in equalities legislation (age, gender, disability and ethnicity) and additional characteristics that are important for equalities and human rights monitoring purposes (young carer status, country of birth, lone parent status, number of dependent children, geographical area and household socio-economic classification, employment status and tenure). All of our estimates (both cross-sectional and changes over time) are accompanied by detailed assessments of statistical significance. Additionally, we use multivariate as well as descriptive methods, which enables us to assess the independent associations between child poverty and different markers of child disadvantage at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century and how these changed during the 2010s. Overall, the analysis shows that the slowdown, stalling and reversal of progress in reducing child poverty during the second decade of the 21st century impacted on children from many different social groups. However, it is of particular concern that some of the groups that were already the most disadvantaged at the beginning of the 2010s were disproportionally impacted with further increases in their child poverty risks and a widening of prevalence gaps with more advantaged comparator groups. Multivariate analysis shows that the independent associations between child poverty and some of the key markers of disadvantage and risk that we are concerned with in this study also strengthened during the 2010s. The evidence we present raises fundamental questions about retrogression in social outcomes in the second decade of the 21st century, the impact of underlying changes in social policies and social protection, the failure to protect vulnerable groups during a period of fiscal adjustment, austerity and welfare reform, and underlying issues of social justice and human rights. The findings also underline the case for the adoption of a new cross-governmental child poverty strategy for the 2020s.