Child poverty - a hard inheritance

By Misch PautschAnouk Flesch Switch to German for original article

Child poverty is rarely associated with Luxembourg, although around a quarter of children live at risk of poverty here as well. While in-kind benefits try to limit the symptoms of the problem, they sometimes reach their limits. How can the poverty spiral be broken?

The start in life should not be a lottery. Nevertheless, even in Luxembourg, the future chances of the young generation are to a large extent linked to factors over which they have no influence. Around a quarter of children in this country still face a comparatively heavy burden today. "Poverty experienced at a young age often has lifelong consequences", explains Anne-Catherine Guio, who conducts research on child poverty, among other things, for the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER): Those who grow up in poverty will usually have difficulties leaving it behind them in adulthood: Young people between the ages of 18 and 24, an age when many begin to build their own lives, find themselves at or below the poverty line in about one-third of cases. Families with only one parent are particularly fragile, says Guio: "Almost 40 per cent of them live at risk of poverty. Yet poverty goes far beyond mere financial difficulties during a single stage of life." Social hurdles, health problems, integration difficulties and, above all, problems at school are often the result of child poverty – and usually guarantee that the social difficulties are passed on.

"When parents are less present to ensure the survival of the family or have had less education themselves, it is much harder for children to succeed at school. This is clearly linked to the socio-economic situation of the parents", Guio explains. At the same time, children living in poverty learn early on to renounce dreams and to be satisfied with "some" success, because they feel they are not made for higher goals. "Children are not naive, they feel the financial stress", Guio warns. The fact that social background can have a major impact on children's success at school has also become clear in the context of the pandemic: According to the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MENJE), the performance of children in socially difficult situations, during the homeschooling period, clearly dipped compared to their classmates. This is not only because these children had less help to fall back on, but often also because they have limited or no access to computers.

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