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Child Poverty and Changes in Child Poverty in Rich Countries since 1990

This paper documents levels and changes in child poverty rates in 12 OECD countries using data from the Luxembourg Income Study project, and focusing upon an analysis of the reasons for changes over the 1990s. The objective is to uncover the relative role of income transfers from the state in determining the magnitude and direction of change in child poverty rates, holding other demographic and labour market factors constant. As such the paper offers a cross-country overview of child poverty, changes in child poverty and the impact of public policy in North America and Europe. The paper offers a set of country specific results, and also attempts to draw general lessons. First, family and demographic forces play only a limited role in determining changes in child poverty rates. These forces change only gradually and are limited in their ability to cushion children from detrimental shocks originating in the labour market or in the government sector, which are the sources of the major forces determining the direction of change in child poverty. Second, in countries facing severe economic crises it does not appear that the amount of social transfers available were increased in a way to cushion children from these changes and put a backstop on their risk of low income. Third, there is no single road to lower child poverty rates. Changes in income transfers need to be thought through in conjunction with the nature of labour markets.

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Paper provided by Innocenti Working Papers in its series Papers with number inwopa05/28.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ucf:inwopa:inwopa05/28
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  1. Lundberg, S.J. & Pollak, R.A. & Wales, T.J., 1994. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from U.K. Child Benefit," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 94-6, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  2. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 239-281, April.
  3. Browning, Martin, 1992. "Children and Household Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1434-75, September.
  4. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  5. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
  6. Corak, Miles, 2005. "Principles and Practicalities for Measuring Child Poverty in the Rich Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 1579, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Mary C. Daly & Robert G. Valletta, 2000. "Inequality and poverty in the United States: the effects of changing family behavior and rising wage dispersion," Working Paper Series 2000-06, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  8. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2003. "Halving Global Poverty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
  9. Shelley A. Phipps & Peter S. Burton, 1995. "Sharing within Families: Implications for the Measurement of Poverty among Individuals in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(1), pages 177-204, February.
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