Half of India’s children live under extreme poverty: Study


At least half of all children living in India are poverty stricken, according to a new Oxford study which found that the nation has the highest number of poor people among South Asian countries.

Indian homeless eat food at a feeding programme for the poor in Hyderabad on March 17, 2013. India still has the worlds largest number of impoverished in a single country, of its nearly one billion inhabitants, an estimated 350-400 million live below the poverty line with 75 percent of them in the rural areas. AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAM (Photo credit should read NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Across the 103 low and middle income countries surveyed, children were found to constitute 34 per cent of the total population.

However, they constituted about 48 per cent of the poor, based on a measure that assesses a range of deprivations in health, education and living standards.

In 36 countries, including India and Pakistan, at least half of all children are poor. In Ethiopia, Niger and South Sudan over 90 per cent of all children are poor.

Over 528 million Indians are poor – which is more people than all the poor people living in sub-Saharan Africa combined. Of these, almost 50 per cent are under the age of 18.

The study highlights the extent of the challenges facing the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals for the eradication of child poverty.

“These new results are deeply disturbing as they show that children are disproportionately poor when the different dimensions of poverty are measured,” said Sabina Alkire, from the University of Oxford in the UK.

Nearly two out of every five children (37 per cent), a total of 689 million children, are classed as multidimensionally poor.

Multidimensional poverty is made up of several factors that constitute poor people’s experience of deprivation such as poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standard, lack of income, disempowerment, poor quality of work and threat from violence.

Of these, 87 per cent are growing up in South Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa – 300 million in each region. Half of South Asia’s children and two thirds of Sub-Saharan children are multidimensionally poor.

The report disaggregates the latest figures for the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) by age group to analyse the particular situation of 1.8 billion children who live in 103 countries. The international definition of a child, used here, is anyone less than 18 years of age.


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