Indicators for measuring child poverty and its combating in European cities


Michael Fuchs


Michael Fuchs, Tamara Premrov


The study commissioned by the City of Vienna provides a holistic and comparable coverage and measurement of child poverty in selected cities of the informal European city network. It includes the following aspects:

  • Prevalence of child poverty;
  • Life circumstances and characteristics of children concerned;
  • Relevance for environments like health, social inclusion, education, labour market integration and housing situation;
  • Measures to combat child poverty;
  • Assessment of the outcomes of measures.

The study serves as discussion input for the city roundtable in Vienna in June 2022.


The study is substantially based on EU-SILC data, as other data sources do not allow to investigate correlations with socio-economic characteristics and drivers of poverty on the micro-level. As relative income poverty is only one aspect, we broadened our analysis by compiling an index of material deprivation and social exclusion which includes five dimensions:

  • Unmanageable debts and arrears;
  • Financial capacity;
  • Health;
  • Education and care;
  • Social interaction and personal relationships;
  • Housing and local environment quality.

Measures to combat child poverty on the city, regional and national level were surveyed via a questionnaire, distributed to representatives of the cities. The questionnaire asked for the evaluation of respective policy measures based on a traffic-light system, related comments and the description of good practices.

Measurements and indicators related to the outcomes of child poverty combating policies and programmes were taken into account on the basis of objective indicators like AROP before and after transfers, work intensity, amount of minimum income benefit in % of median income, hours of work needed to escape poverty, childcare enrolment rates, costs for daily goods, etc., but also on the basis of subjective perception indicators related to (outcomes of) certain policies. As respective data sources EU-SILC, Eurostat Urban Audit and OECD tax-benefit data portal were used.


Cities represent an important stakeholder in combating child poverty and providing equal opportunities for children. To do so, they employ comprehensive strategies and measures. Cities usually allocate own budgets and resources for the poverty prevention and poverty reduction measures and complement available policies on the state or regional level. They often combine a universal approach of family support with means-tested measures to comply with the multiple demands of vulnerable families.

Cities also combine child-centred measures with family-centred measures, at the same time place-based approaches are common, with a focus on specific disadvantaged urban areas. However, cities often lack the necessary competences to encompass the multitude of issues linked with child poverty. They struggle with setting and supporting expanded collaborations between sectors and providers to achieve an integrated approach.

As other cities did not agree to publish comparable figures, we present some results for the City of Vienna: As in many other cities, in Vienna child poverty is higher than the national average, and children are more exposed to poverty than the total population. The highest risk is faced by children from families with low work intensity. Still it can be assumed that social transfers represent a significant poverty relief for families in Vienna. AROP-rates for both children and families highly drop due to monetary benefits.

When we look at child poverty from a multidimensional perspective, we see that deprivations are mostly pronounced in the housing and local environment quality as well as in the financial capacity domains. At the same time, it is important to note that the intensity of these risks is rather low in Vienna. Material deprivation and monetary poverty are moderately correlated.

The City of Vienna has an array of measures and initiatives designed to prevent and combat child poverty, initiated at the national or city level. To name exemplary promising practices, it offers free counselling and support before and after parental leave; workshops, peer-group-meetings, information, and financial support for professional training, especially for young parents; it provides the highest standard rate for children in the country within the Minimum Income Benefit scheme; the attendance of municipal and private elementary educational institutions is exempted from contributions or significantly reduced for all children until the beginning of compulsory schooling; and families and persons with an income below a certain level have access to municipal, cooperative, and subsidised private housing.

In general, there are no individual policies or measures that would have an immediate and significant impact on reducing child poverty in the cities, but the entity and interplay of policies and measures matter. Some of these measures might diminish the probability to fall into poverty, others focus on creating opportunities and work as long-term strategies to fight chronic and intergenerational poverty. At the same time, city level innovative and comprehensive practices and measures have been identified such as an integrated approach targeting the entire family or place-based approaches to address the specific needs of children and families in deprived neighbourhoods.

The European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research supports the Sustainable Development Goals

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