Overzicht:

Child Poverty Risks in Belgium, Wallonia, Flanders: Accounting for a Worrying Performance

The Belgian welfare state is a mediocre performer with regard to child poverty. Moreover, child poverty is increasing. We decompose cross-country differences and changes over time in child poverty by subdividing the child population in subgroups, based on the work intensity of the household in which they live. We use measures of household work intensity to distinguish ‘work-poor’ and ‘very work-poor’ households, and characterize national household employment patterns by an indicator labeled the ‘relative severity of household work poverty’, on which Belgium scores high. The analysis highlights features of the Belgian welfare edifice which are exceptional in a cross-country comparison. Belgium is characterized by a dual polarization: many children live in very work-poor households; simultaneously, poverty risks in these households are high. We examine the impact of household size: although the ‘relative severity of work poverty’ is high in lone parent households in most European welfare states, and the share of lone parent households is comparatively large in Belgium, we show that the difference between Belgium and other welfare states (in patterns of household employment) is not driven by the prevalence of lone parent households. This analysis, which is also applied to the Flemish and the Walloon region separately, leads to three key policy challenges, implying a reconsideration of both social protection and social investment policies in several domains.

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