By January 27, 2014 4 Comments Read More →

U.S. Ranks 34th out of 35 in Childhood Poverty


The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), released a report on the poverty and well-being of children in a total of 35 developed nations. How did the United States rank?

First? Second? Third???

The United States ranked 34th out of 35 countries in child poverty and welfare rankings, barely beating out Romania. UNICEF documents in their U.N. report “Child Well-Being In Rich Countries: A Comparative Review”, that more than one in five American children – 20% – fall below a relative poverty line. UNICEF defines this rate relatively, rather than with a fixed dollar amount, stating that this means one is living in a household making less than half of the national median.

Using this definition, the United States ranks nearly all of Europe plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Using one metric of inequality employed by the CIA – a statistical measurement known as the gini coefficient – the U.S. economy is one of the most unequal economies in the entire developed world.

Thus, even though the U.S. has six times more money than countries like Bulgaria and Romania, the relative inequality and poverty is much higher. 

Below is the UNICEF report, showing relative child poverty rates. Countries marked in grey are separate because they could not provide data for all other indices:



As the UNICEF study focuses on so-called relative inequality, it naturally highlights and compares only so-called “developed” countries. It does not, however, rank the United States or Europe compare to children in the so-called “Third World.”

UNICEF employed a relative definition of poverty because as income goes up in dollars and cents, so too does cost of living. Thus, it would be disingenuous to compare a family of four making $15,000 a year in Chicago to a sub-Saharan African family of four making much less and say “Look how much better we have it in America.”

Internal to the United States, the definition of poverty is set at around $22,000 per year. This includes 15% of Americans already, without considering UNICEF’s relative measurement of poverty.

The UNICEF report also examines what they call the “child poverty gap,” showing how far below the relative poverty line children fall.

This is determined by comparing the relative poverty line and the average income of poor families. The U.S. once again comes in second-to-last. The average poor child living in a U.S. home makes 36% less than the relative poverty line. Using this scale, the U.S. beats only Italy. Below is the UNICEF chart for child poverty gaps:



Read this. Share this. Refuse to accept this as “just the way things are.” We’re better than this.

(Article by Simeon Ari; image edited by PBSpot, chart images via UNICEF)

4 Comments on "U.S. Ranks 34th out of 35 in Childhood Poverty"

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  1. Rochelle Ann Lane says:

    Capitalism…is not what it was envisioned to be. The divide between the haves & the have nots is a gross chasm.

  2. sublithium says:

    There is one giant thing that all the “income inequality” criers ignore. It is a 19th century European argument that has nothing to do with the U.S.. When one points out,”With the wealth of the U.S. no one should go without (Insert cause here)!” it is a false argument. The U.S. has very little wealth. In fact, the U.S. is in massive DEBT. If the U.S. was a family or corporation it would be bankrupt.

    When you make arguments like these you are talking about the country as a collective. We are a nation of individuals. We have INDIVIDUAL rights. The Wealth of the U.S. lies in the hands of individual, not the Government. To use these kind of arguments you have to make one false leap by assuming the wealth of the U.S. lies in the hands of the government and the government is responsible for passing it out.

    For those that attack capitalism…You are idiots! Ask the Ukrainians how marxism and socialism worked out for them in the 1930’s when the Soviets killed around 10 million people by starving them to death while increasing grain exports. Look at the current situation in North Korea where the people starve to death while money is allocated to their nuclear program. Maybe we should move to socialist, marxist, communist system. Everything works so great once you murder of large pockets of your populations and the rest live in fear. Yeah, that’s so much better than capitalism.

    • Alice says:

      ah yes and here we have the argument from the step over your body Libertarian who does not need anything but himself. he magically does all his snow removal, trash removal, fixes his roads, and if you get old well….survival of the fittest. disabilities, any of them again survival of the fittest.

  3. Kittle says:

    Correction. The policies crafted and passed by our government, more specifically both houses of congress, give an unfair advantage to Corporations, Conglomerations, Petrol Refineries, Massive Telecoms, Lucrative Not-for-Profits etc. The series or recession-era economic bailouts passed by congress primarily went to corporations, including some of the very financial institutions that caused the economic collapse – suggesting they would trickle down in the form of new jobs, when instead it paid for overseas jobs and massive retroactive bonuses, with mostly marginal increases in moderate to low paying jobs with little job security. Instead of bailout money being given to account holders who lost their life savings when banks went under (example: IndyMac Bank), the money was given to the irresponsible banks and lenders. Furthermore legislation, even at the state level is passed allowing corporations to pay no property taxes, while small businesses and individuals are still required to pay the tax. Don’t tell me legislators a.k.a. government has no hand in this. What you see in this nation is not capitalism, it’s a mere Corporatocracy cloaked in capitalism.

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