Child poverty increases in Sweden: report
Published: 01 Feb 2011 08:47 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Feb 2011 13:06 GMT+01:00
Some 220,000 children were living in poverty in Sweden in 2008 and the figure is increasing, a new report from Save the Children Sweden (Rädda Barnen) shows.
- More Swedish children dependent on benefits (25 Nov 10)
The report, which is the eighth annual from the organisation addressing the issue, urges Sweden to meet its obligations enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The proportion of children in Sweden living in families unable to afford to provide the most basic items such as food, clothing and housing, increased to 11.5 percent in 2008, from 10.9 percent in 2007 - the lowest levels since records began in 1991.
"While most families have benefited from a hefty increase in wealth the condition of the poorest has remained unchanged," said Elisabeth Dahlin, secretary-general of Save the Children Sweden in a statement.
"The richest tenth of Sweden's families are today so well off, that each family would be able to support more than three families of equivalent size," she added.
There are also variations in the incidence of child poverty across the country, and according to whether they live in single-parent families or whether their parents are born in Sweden or overseas.
The differences between children with Swedish and foreign backgrounds respectively increased from 2007 to 2008 and is more than five times as common (29.5 percent) in the latter group, according to the report.
Among children in single-parent families the incidence of poverty is more than three times as high (24.7 percent) than those in families with two parents (8.1 percent).
Almost every other child (49 percent) living in single-parent families with an immigrant background is reported to live in economic poverty, in comparison to only 2.3 percent of children to Swedish-born parents.
In Täby, a wealthy suburb of Stockholm, the incidence of child poverty was 3 percent, according to the report, while in Malmö the corresponding figure was 31 percent.
Child poverty was generally higher in Sweden's major cities and lowest in wealthy suburbs, Save the Children concluded.
Save the Children argued that Sweden has obligations as a signatory of the CRC and urged the government to act.
"We can and should impose stringent conditions on one of the world's richest countries. Without a doubt Sweden has the resources required for the task. We think it is disgraceful and a violation of Article 4 (of the CRC) to do nothing to combat child poverty in Sweden," Elisabeth Dahlin argued.
The charity has worked to raise awareness of child poverty in Sweden since releasing its first report on the issue in 2002 and called for a national action plan to address the issue and combat the growing incidence of child poverty.
Save the Children Sweden defined child poverty on an index combining two factors - low levels of relative income (according to Statistics Sweden figures on normal basic consumption), or living with income support (a guaranteed minimum level established by the Riksdag in 1998).