An increasing number of Norwegian children live in poverty, and the percentage of poor children has tripled since 2001, according to new figures from Bufdir.
‘There are now over 98,000 children growing up in relative poverty in Norway. The proportion has tripled since 2001, and we are concerned about this trend’, said Director, Mari Trommald, of Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir).
The Directorate will submit the ‘Childhood Report’ for 2017 on Thursday. The figures show that the proportion of Norwegian children who grow up in persistently low income households in Norway has increased from 4.1 % during the period 1997-1999 to 10 % in the period 2013-2015.
There are major differences between the various municipalities within counties. The overview also shows that child poverty in Norway is higher in major cities than the national average. At the county level, Oslo and Hedmark have the highest percentage of children living in poor families.
Among large cities, Drammen has the highest level of child poverty. In Drammen, 17.7 % of children are from low-income families. Oslo is in second position on the list. In Oslo, 17.5 % of children are born into low-income families.
‘The most important thing we can do to get children out of poverty is to give the adults a lasting attachment to the labour market’, said the Director of Education, Jan Sivert Jøsendal of Drammen municipality to Aftenposten.
Among Norwegian municipalities, Fosnes in Namdalen in Nord-Trøndelag, with a scant 700 inhabitants, are the worst off financially. In 2015, the proportion of children in low-income families over a three year period was shown to be 30.2 % in Fosnes.
‘Statistically, there are many poor people here, but I do not think it is perceived like that being a child in Fosnes. We have two shops, both selling food, so there are not that many temptations.
And then we have no rich people here, so most people are in the same boat. Then the fact that one does not have so much money becomes a little less visible’, said the nursery manager, Kari Thorsen, to NRK news.
Several districts in Oslo have equal levels of child poverty. In the capital city, however, the proportion varies between 5.4 % in Vestre Aker to a full 34.1 % in Gamle Oslo. In Træna, Bindal, Bø, and Kautokeino, the proportion of children living in poverty hovers just above or below 20 %.
‘With such large internal differences between the counties and in the major cities, it is important that municipalities acquire an overview of local child poverty conditions’, said Trommald. With the publishing of this report, she hopes that municipalities receive help to initiate the right measures in local areas.
A number of statistics in the Bufdir report said nothing about the extent of children living at risk of poverty. In 2015, just fewer than 160,000 children lived in households with only a single parent. In those families where the single parent was also low-income, 38 % of children are living below the poverty line.
In 2015, a scant 68,000 children lived in households that received social assistance, while more than 92,000 children lived in families where no one had a job.
In 2015, more than one in eight children, 135,953 in total, lived in households that received more than half of their income through public money.
The figures also show that there are increasing numbers of children in low-income households from immigrant backgrounds. In 2015, 53 % of all children living in low-income families had a background of coming from a country other than Norway.
This applies especially to children where the family has a background of coming to Norway from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Children who come from Somalia, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Eritrea are particularly vulnerable.
Around six out of ten children in low-income families live in rented accommodation, and many children in low-income families live in crowded conditions, which present challenges in gaining opportunities to do homework, and have privacy.
‘The latest figures show that half of all children who live in relative poverty are living in overcrowded households; in Oslo this applies to three out of four children who live in relative poverty. It is one of many examples of the disadvantages that these children experience in their living conditions’ said Trommald.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today