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Israel has 4th-highest child poverty rate in developed world — UNICEF

Report attributes marginal worsening of situation to cuts in government allowances to parents

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

An ultra-Orthodox woman waits for food before the Sukkot holidays in the Mea Shearim market in Jerusalem.  (photo credit: Serge Attal / Flash 90
An ultra-Orthodox woman waits for food before the Sukkot holidays in the Mea Shearim market in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Serge Attal / Flash 90

Israel has the fourth-highest child poverty rate in the developed world, according to a UNICEF report released Monday.

The United Nations Children’s Fund found that child poverty in Israel increased from 35.1 percent to 35.6% between 2008 and 2013, ranking Israel behind Greece (40.5%), Latvia (38.2%), and Spain (36.3%).

The report, titled “Children of the recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries,” revealed that the overall number of children living in poverty has increased by 2.6 million in the 41 countries surveyed since the 2008 global recession, to an estimated 76.5 million in the developed world.

The study noted Israel’s already high child poverty rates, and attributed the marginal 0.55 percent rise in recent years to government cuts to child allowances.

Researchers also found that Israel has the highest rate of young adults aged 15-24 who are not in education, employment or training at 30.7 percent. However, Israel’s mandatory two-year military service likely contributes to this high number.

“This report is a warning light to Israel,” Jonny Cline, UNICEF Israel’s executive director told Yedioth Ahronoth Wednesday.

“We must make children our focus to prevent further deterioration and bring about long-term change,” he added.

Out of the 41 countries surveyed, 23 had sizable increases in child poverty rates, mostly in the Mediterranean region.

UNICEF called the impact of the recession on children a “Great Leap Backward” and recommended OECD countries adopt economic stimulus packages and increase public spending to counter increasing child poverty rates.

“The problems have not ended for children and their families, and it may well take years for many of them to return to pre-crisis levels of well being. Failing to respond boldly could pose long-term risks,” the report concluded.

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