British-German Review, The Journal of the British-German Association, Vol.20, Number 2, April 2002


Child Poverty in Britain and Germany

By Dr F. Hamblin
The main problem in examining any aspect of poverty is to find a definition of the term that has reasonable wide application. Most definitions vary considerably between countries; a 'poor' child in the UK is relatively rich compared with one in, say, South Africa. However, it is possible to find a rough yardstick that can be used to compare countries of about the same economic development and the same climatic region. The authors define 'poor' persons in the UK and Germany as those in households receiving less than 60% of the median national income. Using this yardstick they find that the level of child poverty was higher in the UK in the 1980's than in Germany and that Germany took more measures to alleviate child poverty. The children of unemployed persons were (and are) much better off in Germany, but it is by no means certain that the UK could take similar measures. Germany has a greater GNP than the UK and less commitments than the UK and therefore has more money to spend on social services.
It is an interesting and thought provoking brochure and repays careful study but it is difficult to delve too deeply in this question since, as indicated above, it is almost impossible to get an absolute definition of poverty. Even in the UK there are marked differences between children with the same monetary income living in some rural areas and those in deprived 'inner city' areas.



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