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30 Mar 18 | News

Recent adoption of child deprivation indicators at EU level

Crucial step to better understand child-specific material and social living conditions, which may differ from those of their parents.

The fight against child poverty and social exclusion and the importance of investing in children’s well-being has been high on the European Union’s (EU) policy agenda for more than a decade. A first significant step was the EU Luxembourg Presidency in the first half of 20051, which stressed the need for “children mainstreaming” and suggested a specific approach to child wellbeing at the EU level. It argued that simple age group breakdowns of EU social indicators were insufficient to adequately capture the child-specific material and social living conditions, which may differ from those of their family – child-specific measures are needed.

The EU went a step further in 2013, when the European Recommendation on Investing in Children to break the vicious circle of disadvantage was adopted. This recommendation calls on Member States to mobilize to combat child poverty and exclusion as soon as possible in order to enable children to reach their full potential. This recommendation stresses the importance of investing in children, fighting poverty and social exclusion, and taking full account of the well-being of children, and urges Member States to review their policies in this area.

In March 2018, a child-specific deprivation indicator was adopted. The list of items used to measure child deprivation was proposed by LISER’s researchers, in collaboration with Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research of Bristol University, in a research funded by Eurostat. Anne-Catherine Guio (LISER) and her co-authors, in close cooperation with Eurostat, provided an in-depth analysis of available items in order to ensure a robust, reliable and comparable child deprivation indicator at the EU level2. This new indicator will be regularly used to monitor Member States’ progress towards child well-being.

Children are deprived if they lack (for affordability reasons) at least three of the following items:

  1. Child: Some new clothes
  2. Child: Two pairs of shoes
  3. Child: Fresh fruits & vegetables daily
  4. Child: Meat, chicken, fish daily
  5. Child: Suitable books
  6. Child: Outdoor leisure equipment
  7. Child: Indoor games
  8. Child: Leisure activities
  9. Child: Celebrations
  10. Child: Invite friends
  11. Child: School trips
  12. Child: Holiday
  13. Household: Replace worn-out furniture
  14. Household: Arrears
  15. Household: Internet
  16. Household: Home adequately warm
  17. Household: Car

The following graph shows disparities in the rate of child deprivation in the EU.

Photo: Patrick Galbats

Deprivation was suffered by 8% of children in the Grand- Duchy of Luxembourg. In the EU league, the figure shows that the country is one of the best performers regarding the child-specific deprivation indicator. However, this average rate hides a large diversity of situations among children in Luxembourg. Indeed, 23% of children living below the income poverty line are deprived. These children who cumulate disadvantages are of particular concern.


[1] Marlier, E., Atkinson, A.B., Cantillon, B. and Nolan, B. (2007). “The EU and Social Inclusion: Facing the challenges”, Bristol: The Policy Press.
[2] Guio Anne-Catherine, Gordon David, Marlier Eric, Najera Hector, Pomati Marco. Towards an EU measure of child deprivation. Child Indicators
Research, 2017.