This paper examines the links between childhood poverty and population factors at both micro- and macro-levels and considers the significance of historical European experiences of demographic change and improvements in child wellbeing for the South. It finds that the relationship between poverty, population trends and childhood poverty is very context- and culture-specific, with macro-level relationships appearing much clearer than those at micro-level. Overall, the poorer the country and the higher the fertility level, the greater the beneficial effects of a decrease in fertility rates on children's wellbeing. However, policies aimed at reducing population growth are not necessarily the most effective route to reducing childhood poverty; family planning programmes should be implemented alongside wider development programmes in order to achieve substantial improvements in childhood wellbeing. The paper also notes that when reduced fertility and mortality result in the highest possible ratio of working to non-working population, a demographic window opens up - a one-off opportunity to invest in child wellbeing. Making the most of this requires a policy emphasis on human capital and infrastructure investment, as has taken place in parts of East Asia.
Serra, R. (2004) CHIP Report 5: The demographic context and its implications for childhood poverty. Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre (CHIP), London, UK, ISBN: 1-904922-03-1, iii + 66 pp.
CHIP Report 5: The demographic context and its implications for childhood poverty