In 2015, around 25 million children, or 26.9% of the population aged 0 to 17, in the European Union (EU) were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This means that they were living in households in at least one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers (income poverty), severely materially deprived or with very low work intensity. Since 2010, the proportion of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU has slightly decreased, from 27.5% in 2010 to 26.9% in 2015. However contrasting trends were observed across the EU Member States.
In 2015 more than a third of children were at risk of poverty or social exclusion in six Member States: Romania (46.8%), Bulgaria (43.7%), followed by Greece (37.8%), Hungary (36.1%), Spain (34.4%) and Italy (33.5%). At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest shares of children being at risk of poverty or social exclusion were recorded in Sweden (14.0%), Finland (14.9%) and Denmark (15.7%), ahead of Slovenia (16.6%), the Netherlands (17.2%), the Czech Republic and Germany (both 18.5%) in 2015.
In approximately half of the EU Member States, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate has grown from 2010 to 2015, with the highest increases being recorded in Greece (from 28.7% in 2010 to 37.8% in 2015, or +9.1 percentage points), Cyprus (+7.1 pp), and Italy (+4.0 pp). In contrast, the largest decrease among EU Member States was observed in Latvia (from 42.2% to 31.3%, or -10.9 pp), followed by Bulgaria (-6.1 pp) and Poland (-4.2 pp). At the EU level, the percentage of the total population aged below 18 being at risk of poverty or social exclusion decreased by 0.6 pp from 27.5% in 2010 to 26.9% in 2015.
The proportion of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU decreases with the education level of their parents. In 2015, almost two thirds (65.5%) of all children whose parents had a low education level (at the most lower secondary education) were at risk of poverty in the EU in 2015, compared with 30.3% of children residing with parents who had a medium education level (upper secondary education) and 10.6% of children with parents with a higher education level (tertiary education).
This pattern held in all EU Member States in 2015. The largest differences between the share of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion who lived in a low and in a high education level household were found in Slovakia (94.4% of children in a low education level household compared with 11.0% in a high education level household; or a gap of 83.4 pp), Bulgaria (79.4 pp) and the Czech Republic (78.6 pp). In contrast, the smallest differences were observed in Denmark (34.7 pp), closely followed by Estonia (35.7 pp) and Portugal (38.4 pp).