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Child Poverty Amongst Young Carers in the UK: Prevalence and Trends in the Wake of the Financial Crisis, Economic Downturn and Onset of Austerity
Child Indicators Research 12, pp.1831-1854, 2019
Polly Vizard, Polina Obolenskaya and Tania Burchardt
Published 14 January 2019
The article provides the first estimates of prevalence and trends in child poverty amongst young carers aged 5–19 in the UK using specialized income data from the Family Resources Survey / the Households Below Average Income Survey. Looking across four key indicators, we find that child poverty rates were higher amongst young carers than other children based on 3 years pooled data for 2013/14–2015/16. The differences in the prevalence of child poverty amongst young carers and other children are statistically significant in relation to two indicators (anchored low income before housing costs, and a combined measure of low income and material deprivation). Young carers also appear to have fared worse than other children in terms of trends in child poverty outcomes over the period that coincided with the financial crisis, economic downturn and onset of austerity. Amongst young carers, there was a statistically significant increase in relative low income after housing costs of nine percentage points (from 24 to 33%) between 2005/07 and 2013/15. This compares with a two percentage point decline amongst other children. Multivariate findings confirm that trends in child poverty outcomes amongst young carers were highly differentiated from those of other children and that the association between child poverty and young caring status strengthened over the period under observation. Multivariate analysis further suggests that the increases in child poverty rates amongst young carers were not driven by purely “compositional” factors relating to demographic characteristics of the households in which young carers live and that labour market factors are particularly important in explaining the trends that are observed. Overall, the findings from the study raise concerns that young carers were disproportionately impacted by the patterns of stagnating real income and declining income from employment that characterized the period following the financial crisis, economic downturn and onset of austerity, whilst underlining the importance of housing costs as a factor in child poverty amongst young carers, and raising important questions regarding the ongoing effectiveness of social protection for this group.