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Differences in Child Deprivation Across Europe: The Role of In-Cash and In-Kind Transfers


Child deprivation has severe short-term as well as life-long consequences for children experiencing it. Using the new child-specific deprivation indicator adopted by the European Union in 2018 and computed from the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions dataset, the paper analyses the determinants of child deprivation in 31 European countries. It applies negative binomial multilevel models, which combine household-level and country-level variables. The latter include various macro-level variables that are new to the deprivation literature.

The results show the combined impact of factors related to “household’s longer-term command over resources” and factors explaining “household needs”. Regarding the role of the welfare state and social transfers in child deprivation, the paper highlights the impact of cash benefits, which operates through household income, and of in-kind benefits, which decrease a household’s needs and increase household’s resources. Another important conclusion is that the provision of affordable education reduces child deprivation, as it can mitigate the cost burden faced by parents.

In terms of policy implications, the paper shows the importance of investing in social protection and public services in order to reduce child deprivation.

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Fig. 2a-2d


  1. Norway could not be included due to the large amount of missing data on child deprivation.

  2. On the importance of the reliability of deprivation indicators, see Nájera Catalán and Gordon (2019).

  3. See Guio et al., (2012: 110) for the reason why the unweighted sum of deprivations was chosen, rather than the weighted sum. See also Nájera Catalán (2019), who shows via numerical experimentation that the higher the reliability, the less important it is to weight the items.

  4. The extent to which one needs additional “social stratification” indicators to gauge an individual’s or a household’s permanent income, over and above current income, is a moot question; see Kim et al., 2018 and Brady et al., 2018, for recent explorations of this issue.

  5. Both the logarithm and linear forms of the income variable were entered in the regressions. The best regression fit was obtained with the non-logarithm form of the variable.

  6. For Iceland, Serbia and Switzerland, a child is considered to be a migrant if at least one member of its household was born in a country which is neither the country of residence nor an EU country.

  7. In the EU the age of a child is defined between 0 and 17, which is not consistent with the unit of data collection of the child deprivation indicator (age 0–15).

  8. See Čomić (2022).

  9. Using only macro variables, Kenworthy et al., (2011) had paved the way for this, explaining the dispersion of deprivation between countries by the role of macro-economic variables such as GDP, unemployment, inequality and the size of social policy expenditure.

  10. In line with what Marx et al (2013) and Diris et al (2017) have proposed.

  11. Himself followed by Chzhen (2014).

  12. “COFOG” stands for “Classification of the functions of government”. It was developed by the OECD.


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The authors wish to thank Brian Nolan, Jonathan Bradshaw, Elena Bárcena-Martín, Bertrand Maître, Kenneth Nelson and Geranda Notten for valuable discussions. All errors remain strictly the authors’. This work has been supported by the third Network for the analysis of EU-SILC (Net-SILC3), funded by Eurostat (Grant agreement No. 07142.2015.002-2015.694). The European Commission bears no responsibility for the analyses and conclusions, which are solely those of the authors.

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Correspondence to Anne-Catherine Guio.

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Guio, AC., Marlier, E., Vandenbroucke, F. et al. Differences in Child Deprivation Across Europe: The Role of In-Cash and In-Kind Transfers. Child Ind Res (2022).

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  • Child poverty
  • Deprivation
  • European Union
  • Welfare state
  • Social transfers
  • In-kind social transfers.