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Groundbreaking study reveals extent of global child poverty

12 March 2012

Poverty is currently the world’s biggest killer of children.  Every day, many millions of children around the world enduring tremendous suffering and severe deprivation of their most basic needs, for shelter, food, water and education.  A new book by academics at the University of Bristol, Global child poverty and well-being: Measurement, concepts, policy and action is the first to provide a global picture about how child poverty is understood, defined and measured.

Poverty is currently the world’s biggest killer of children.  Every day, many millions of children around the world enduring tremendous suffering and severe deprivation of their most basic needs, for shelter, food, water and education.  A new book by academics at the University of Bristol, Global child poverty and well-being: Measurement, concepts, policy and action is the first to provide a global picture about how child poverty is understood, defined and measured.

Bringing together contributions from leading researchers on international child poverty with the aim of changing policy, action and research to address marginalisation and inequality, the book explores important work being done around the world, with national and regional case studies revealing the extent and nature of child poverty in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Congo Brazzaville, Haiti, Iran, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania and Vietnam.  Child poverty in rich countries is also examined, with work from the US, EU and UK.  The book also includes initial findings from UNICEF’s groundbreaking Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities, currently being conducted in over 50 countries around the world.

With a preface from Sir Richard Jolly, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, the book provides a unique guide to this important and essential topic and suggests that child poverty could be radically reduced and eventually eliminated through appropriate and feasible policies.

Co editor, Dr Shailen Nandy, a Research Associate in the  University of Bristol’s School for Policy Studies, said: “This book sadly shows just how prevalent child poverty and deprivation are across the world.  At a time of widespread and extensive cuts to government spending and public services on which children and their families depend, it is simply unacceptable for governments to pass the burden of correcting economies onto the weakest members of society.”

Alberto Minujin, of the New School, New York believes that tools exist to measure disparity around the world and to forge systems to alleviate child poverty: “This book offers reflections on ways to eliminate poverty around the world, be it in the richest or the poorest countries. Hopefully, these chapters will spur debate and conversation that elevate action in favour of children and their basic rights. Moving forward in the 21st century, as our authors point out, we have the requisite skills and talents to make equity for children our number one concern.”

Speaking about the book, Lord Puttnam CBE, added: "This is an important and ground-breaking study of an issue which should be of serious concern to every human being on the planet. Alberto Minujin and Shailen Nandy's text needs to be widely and closely read."

Professor Frances Stewart of Oxford University said: “This important book provides a comprehensive and damning indictment of the extent of child poverty across the globe, in rich countries as well as poor. Yet as, argued here, child poverty could be radically reduced and eventually eliminated through appropriate and feasible policies. This book should be read by policy-makers world-wide."

The book is published by The Policy Press, editors Alberto Minujin and Shailen Nandy.