Not Just Statistics: Making Children’s Poverty More Visible

  • Peter SaundersEmail author
Part of the Children’s Well-Being: Indicators and Research book series (CHIR, volume 10)


Conventional poverty line studies treat children as passive and in effect invisible. Their only role is to act as a drain on family incomes, as additional points on the equivalence scale that is deigned to capture family needs. This approach is at odds with an accumulating body of empirical evidence showing that children not only contribute to family resources in various ways (including by earning and redistributing that income within the family) but also by suppressing their own needs and going without when family resources are stretched. The net impact of these factors on measured child poverty is uncertain although their existence suggests that conventional child poverty rates should be treated with caution. The deprivation approach pioneered by Townsend provides one way of overcoming some of the limitations of the poverty line approach because its focus is on the ability of individuals (including children) to attain an acceptable standard of living by purchasing items that are widely regarded as necessary or essential in society. This paper will set out the main limitations of a poverty line approach and draw on recent studies to illustrate how deprivation studies, supported by other research provide a better framework for understanding, identifying and measuring child poverty.


Child poverty Poverty line studies Poverty indicators Deprivation Child deprivation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Policy Research CentreUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia

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