Tuesday, March 01, 2005

But aren't *all* children above average?

An article in The Guardian reveals a dire situation: Unicef bureaucrats never took Stat W1111.

Despite government efforts to improve the living conditions of poor children, the UK still has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the developed world, Unicef reported today.

Approximately one in seven children grow up in poverty in the UK, defined by Unicef as households with income below 50% of the national average. With 15.4% of British children falling into that category, the UK ranked seventh from bottom of a list of 24 industrialised nations studied by Unicef.

If the liberated above-avg. income earners of Britain would simply cut back on birth control, Britain could rise to lead Europe in the proportion of young haves to young have-lesses.

UPDATE: Oops, sort of. See comments....


Adam Scavone said...

The Guardian apparently didn't bother with a stats class either, judging by their headline. I guess you don't needs stats, though, when your answer to any and all contemporary social problems is screaming for more, more, more money.

Anyway, thank goodness for the Guardian.

In Lerner said...

Stiff questions for Brits:
1. Um, what percentage of the population is above average;
2. Gee, who is buried in Grant's Tomb;
3. Duh, if you put all of your eggs in one basket, but your basket has a screw loose, what percentage of your metaphors get statistically scrambled.

Clara said...

To be clear, we're talking about the MEAN average, not the MEDIAN. So it's possible -- probable, actually -- that most households are below the 50% mark for *average income*.

Let's say there are 5 people in a country. One earns $2 million a year, and the rest earn $50,000 each. The *average* income is $440,000, which puts 80% of the population below UNICEF's "poverty line".

Wealthy capitalist countries have a great deal of income disparity. (Example: the US, which contains Bill Gates and a janitor, among others). The people at the top tend to have fewer kids, which skews the histogram of kids matched with income DOWN to the lower levels of wealth.

In other words, the Guardian article a) isn't surprising, and b) doesn't tell us anything about how many children in Britain are going to bed hungry.

Jeff said...

This reminds me of how a lot of liberals will argue that American children are poorer than kids in like Honduras, because our child poverty rate is higher. Of course, it's defined as children growing up in families with less than the average national income. So, the bar for "poverty" in America is only like 20 times higher... But never let facts get in the way of a good Capitalism-bashing.

Anonymous said...

I haven't taken a statistics class myself, but maybe you guys need to (again). According to the article, 15% of UK children live in households with income below 50% of the national average.

What's wrong with that?

The article also suggests that no matter what measure is used, poverty levels have increased in most of the (developed world) countries studied. And that government intervention appears to work in lowering child poverty.

On the face of it, it makes perfect sense.

Clara said...

I really misread this one. The anonymous poster (see above) is correct: we're talking about children in families earning 1/2 (or less) of the average income.

I still say that doesn't necessarily point to a crisis, especially in a modern, developed country like Britain. Absolute poverty's the important thing, I say.

But I was dead wrong about the original article. If I'd read it correctly the first time, I wouldn't have a made a stink about it.