Working paper abstract


Child deprivation in Ontario: A (less than perfect) comparison with Europe

Geranda Notten

This study assesses how child deprivation in Ontario compares to that of Ontario's population in general and that of children in eight European high-income countries (France, Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden). This research has been motivated by the publication of UNICEF's 10th Child Report Card. Due to lacking data the report card only compares child deprivation for Europe. For Ontario, however, deprivation information is available in the 2009 Ontario Material Deprivation Survey. Being a province that is close to Canada's average socio-economic performance, replicating the report card methodology allows exploring how child deprivation in Ontario, and possibly Canada, compares to Europe.

This study finds that Children in Ontario have somewhat higher deprivation levels (11.7%) than the Ontario population as a whole (9.9%). In comparison to the eight European countries, Ontario also has higher child deprivation levels, ranking right after France which has the highest deprivation rates and 19th out of 30 countries. Just like their European peers, deprivation of Ontario children is associated with families consisting of lone parents and fewer employed household members as well as caretakers having low education and / or low income. Nevertheless, the relative disadvantage that such children in Ontario face seems smaller than in the European countries. As in Europe, there is considerable lack of overlap between income poor and materially deprived households: this study finds that about 6% of the children are both income poor and deprived; 6% are deprived only and 10% are income poor only (78% are neither income poor or deprived). In sum, rather than resembling the Nordic countries, child deprivation in Ontario resembles more to that in Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom and especially France.

As Canada's current focus on 'low income' measures excludes half of the materially deprived households, these findings suggest that using material deprivation measures would also contribute to a better and more nuanced understanding of poverty in Canada.

JEL classification: I32, I38

Keywords: material deprivation, income poverty, child poverty, Ontario, Europe