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Sweden 'failing' in fight against child poverty

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 7 Jun 2011, 14:32

Published: 07 Jun 2011 14:32 GMT+02:00

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The consequences for children who live in poverty are very serious, underlined Save the Children Sweden's secretary-general Elisabeth Dahlin.

"To grow up in social exclusion is a very bad start in life. These children are quiet and loyal and take significant responsibility for the family finances - they don't take part in school outings or leisure activities, the clothes they wear are too small and they can never go to the cinema or football," she said.

Dahlin called on the Swedish government to act to address the situation.

"Sweden has long rightly claimed to be a pioneering country in how we care for and support families with children. Let us show that we still take responsibility for reducing child poverty," she said.

Save the Children's new report entitled "Welfare state, not for all" (Välfärd, inte för alla), is a follow up on a February report on the incidence of child poverty in Sweden.

The February report showed that the proportion of children living in families unable 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.

According to the charity there are three distinct groups who are the worst affected: single-parents, newly arrived immigrants and young parents who are not yet established on the labour market.

Social Democrat leader Håkan Juholt on Tuesday argued that the increase in child poverty is due to three problems: high unemployment combined with labour shortages in key sectors, a "drastic decline" in the employment of women and the expansion of charges in schools.

"It is clear that Save the Children write that the distributive policies in favour of child families have failed," he said.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt meanwhile responded that the key to addressing child poverty lay in tackling unemployment.

"I regret that some of those commenting don't begin with the most obvious - namely to ensure that the number of jobs is increased," he said.

Reinfeldt identified a raft of government measures to aid families, including a hike in child and housing benefits.

He furthermore identified work to improve integration as key to tackling child poverty, including lowering the thresholds for employment for people from other countries.

Save the Children Sweden concluded in its report that the redistributive effects of family policy have declined in recent decades and argued that measures need to be taken to address the growing inequalities.

"The ability to reduce poverty has declined over the past ten years and the precision with which social safety nets are able to capture vulnerable families with children has disappeared," the charity argued in its report.

Story continues below…

Save the Children Sweden suggested two immediate initiatives to begin to address the problem: to raise the guarantee level of parental insurance (currently 180 kronor ($30) per day) to a "reasonable sum", and to boost income support in line with inflation.

The charity's February report showed that while ten percent of Sweden's children lived in poverty, the problem was far greater among single-parent families and families with foreign backgrounds - 24.7 and 29.5 percent respectively.

Child poverty was defined 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).

Save the Children Sweden has produced an annual report on the incidence of child poverty in Sweden every year since 2002.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:42 June 7, 2011 by Brtahan
Youth from the age of 18-25 who have kids are the most effected , and are very poor comparing to other who are older . Solving the problem is either employment and not praktik and Fass 3, or better welfare for kids, iknow now lots are going start whining ,like why you should get kids in a young age and stuff, but we know the problem already , we need a solution. Which is common sense employment or better help to the needy .
17:23 June 7, 2011 by abbeycity
I will like to comment on the aboved article on ''CHILD POVERTY'' I hope that everyone believe that children are the leaders of tomorrow. I would like to share little expearience of mine related to this article. I am a single father with two children without getting any benefit for them from 'Försäkringskassan' simply because 'Socialförvaltningen' have not accept me as there'vårdnadshavare' and most worst part of it, I lost my job because I couldn't work under shift schedul which I see that it is very difficult for the chidren and I personally to survive the stiuation. It would be at a great pleasure if the case or issues of child social life right can be respected by all parties to reduce child poverty.
18:36 June 7, 2011 by swedejane
Well, if the so-called answer is to lower wages for immigrant jobs how in the world is that going to ease the poverty issue? Dumb...how about instituting a minimum, living wage? And more tax breaks for increasing payrolls.
19:02 June 7, 2011 by RobinHood
Rädda Barnen Sweden came up with the decidedly dodgy statistic that one in ten Swedish children lives in abject poverty back in February. What with Sweden being one of the richest societies in the world, with the most generous benefit system, I was a bit dubious then. Ever since, I have been looking for these kids, but have yet to find one. All the kids I see are well-fed, well-dressed and happy; and I live in a rough neighbourhood in a large city. I will know one when I see one, where I was born kids were poor, by anyone's standards.

Where are all these malnourished, poorly dressed, unhoused Swedish children? They must be somewhere, Rädda Barnen Sweden would never make up some dodgy facts just to justify their own existance. Would they?
19:39 June 7, 2011 by EtoileBrilliant
What does that say about the rest of the world. Last month Save the Children announced that Sweden was the #1 country in the world to bring up children.
21:55 June 7, 2011 by kenny8076
LOL Infart.... how about if your broke DONT HAVE KIDS!!!

@Etoile it says the rest of its world doesn't pay its society to irresponsibly have children and rely on tax payers to raise THEIR child.

i like how it talks about chidren not being able to have things and do things like the "wealthier" children.... perhaps if Sweden wasnt one of the most expensive places to buy clothes i have EVER been to in my life, it wouldnt be so hard for parents to go out and get the stuff when they are financially low.

As for kids going to a movie... Just checked SF.se and for a kid under 12 to go see KungFu Panda will set mom back 120SEK!!!!! not including candy and a drink!.............. Please do not talk about children not being able to do things or have things when prices are aimed at well off families!! By far the most expensive country i have lived in overall
22:23 June 7, 2011 by canuk
here here mr infart, you seem to have some logic..
22:54 June 7, 2011 by zooeden
Boo Hoooooo!!!!
00:32 June 8, 2011 by Grindsprint
Even if I can agree with an earlier comment that the problem is here (if it really is?) now we need to fix it, It´s just that part of the solution should be not to increase the supposed problem. And it would be dumb to not point out, that it IS stupid to make babies while not in a financial position to provide for them. How that problem is solved, I don´t know, but not dodging the facts are usually a good start to identify the actual nature of the problem.
01:43 June 8, 2011 by wenddiver
According to NOC (the National Organization of Children) children are only paid a dollar per every thousand dollars that white male heads of house holds make in the same household. The disparity in buying pawer between white males who work for large corporations and children who are self-employed and work at finger painting, sand castle building and watching Paris Hilton explain current events on TV is dramatic. Children are horribly under-represented in technology Jobs, the Medical Field and Political Offices. None of the countries in the UN are repesented by children.
02:56 June 8, 2011 by Syftfel
I have a suggestion. Let's just raise taxes! These rich fat cats have too much money any way and need to be taught a lesson. They should be made to give up more of what they earn so we can accomodate all these "chiiiiiiiildren" pouring in across our borders.
05:55 June 8, 2011 by Biorealist
One fool-proof method would be slowing the importation of tens of thousands of more poor people every year until he has solved child poverty among Swedes and immigrants already here.

In 2008 the child poverty rate of Native Swedish children was only one third of what is was in 1997, a massive reduction from 243.000 to 78.000. The only reason Sweden's' total child poverty rate has not declined more is that during these years politicians to the right and the left brought several hundred thousand poor immigrants to Sweden to swell the ranks of the impoverished. While first and second generation immigrants constituted 44% of the poor children in 1997, they were 65% of all poor children in Sweden in 2008.

Only 5% of native Swedish children live in poverty. For immigrant children with both parents born outside of the Sweden, the child poverty rate is 39%, a miserable number which may shock and should dishearten liberal Americans. The Swedish model appeared to produce amazing results as long as the country was completely homogeneous and full of Swedes. But the much admired welfare state was unable to deal with even moderate levels of ethic diversity (still far below the levels of the United States) without a collapse in social outcomes.

Demographic change, not economic policy, is what is preventing child poverty from declining (if it were the fault of economic policy the child poverty rate of ordinary Swedes would not have declined so much).

08:42 June 8, 2011 by isenhand
"The increase in child poverty in Sweden is due in part to failed family policies and the welfare system becoming less fair"

This is a predictable out come of the way Sweden has gone sine the 1990s. There's a lot of research that shows increase in all kinds of social problems as society becomes less equal. The more equal a society the less social problems a society has. In Sweden, we have seen inequality get worse with an increase in a small percent of very wealthy at one end and an increase in poverty at the other.

If we carry on they way we are now things will get much worse.


09:27 June 8, 2011 by wenddiver
So why are assylum seekers making such a large percentage of the children???

Because your not making them yourselves. Stop playing with your computer go out to a bar or a Church and go find an unattached woman, I know this will disappoint a lot of you, but Goats, Dogs, and other men won't do. Yes, it must be a Woman.

This can actually be a lot of fun. Guys get to act sensative and caring, so that College acting class will come in handy in telling the biggest lie of your life and women pretend that they think guys are funny and smart (don't worry guys are dumb, so they buy into it).

The next part is easy and done in complete darkness, so nobody can see how gofy you look.

Boom, problem solved, send the little bugger to Medical School, so he can send you money in old age. Better than supporting a family from Gaza for the rest of your life.
14:22 June 8, 2011 by infidel2012
Here's an idea Sweden,

Stop sending money to foriegn countries, tex; Africa, and put it back into the Swedish system, but I dergress, sending money outside of Sverige protects our future trade commodities, like oil, agriculture and the 3rd world crap manufactured for sale found at Ikea stores.
19:24 June 8, 2011 by Species125
Is it true that the royal family gets about 120 miljoner kronor a year of tax payers' money? Maybe they could send autographed pictures of themselves to all the poor children to help uplift their little spirits? If I was an impoverished child, I would like a picture of the royal family in beautiful clothes.
20:54 June 8, 2011 by swedejane

Interesting post.


I believe the number is closer to 50,000,000sek a year (not including housing and travel, which are 100% paid for with swedish taxpayer money but either not reported or easily found).
10:50 June 9, 2011 by Twiceshy
Capitalism is good only for riches and corrupted politicians (and for the king who use public money to pay prostitutes supplied by Yugo crimis). Inside of present system, the only solution for poor parents is to apply for job at bandidos or at hells angells, or if you don't like organized crimis, buy gun and take from riches for yourself. It is easy to have sex, but when you get child, it is not easy to take a risk to make normal life for your child. if you wanted child, now take responsibility, take the risk. Or ask your king if he needs more prostitutes, maybe you can supply him and you can get money instead of Yugo crimis.
23:52 June 9, 2011 by Frobobbles
"families unable to provide the most basic items such as food, clothing and housing" - that sounds very dramatic, until you realize that it is just a relative comparison. The poorest group has had a large increse in standard of living in the last ten years, and this is described as poverty, because there are others that are more well off. If everyone was starving together, the same method would show us as having no poverty. If everyone was rich as Bill Gates, but 20% had just a billion each, the Red Cross would describe it as horrid poverty. And so on.

People are ready to get fooled by this for sentimental reasons.
05:33 June 10, 2011 by Yoninadi
I am surprised that Sweden has poverty.I must be a naive American!
12:39 June 10, 2011 by Eva117
In my personal view there is no poverty in Sweden. A family in Africa receive a salary of one dollar a day. How much a doillar worth in Africa. They have no proper food, water. More than 90 percent of their population is without electricity.

it takes 50 billion Rand to buy a package of bread

Children are not starved to death in Sweden. They eat free food at school, dagis. There are free parks, Swimming pools. Education in free.

Medication is free for children.

I'm speaking about a family with social bidrag they recieve all this benefit.

They can get more if they work, starta eget ect..

Ofcourse the families with jobs they own more.
12:22 June 15, 2011 by astra2thor6
Between the ages of 1-11 years I had on average two pairs of trousers and one pair of shoes. We ate basic, but nourishing food. We had no TV nor car. There were no social security payments for children nor families. You paid for medicines, and doctor and hospital visits. I, nor many others, considered ourselves poor. The standard of living that I experienced was the norm for lower middle class and working class families. Primary and secondary education was free, but paid for university education.

Like others who commented above I see no malnourished, homeless, nor poor children in Sweden. Where are they? Why are there so many "invandrare " seeking Swedish citizenship. Why did 103,000 immigrants come from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria between 2000-2009? (cf scb.se) Sweden must be doing something right!

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