Media centre


Latest news


Ethical Guidelines

Contact us


Key findings: Innocenti Social Monitor 2006

Understanding Child Poverty in South-Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States

18 October 2006

  • The overall number of children under 15 living in extreme income poverty (PPP $2.15) has decreased from 32 million to 18 million. Yet, One in four children under 15 is still living in extreme income poverty in South-Eastern Europe, despite the economic upturn in the region.
  • The share of children under 15 living in extreme poverty ranges from 5 per cent in some SEE countries rising to 80 per cent in the poorest Central Asian countries 
  • There are stark disparities in child well-being and opportunities:
    • within and between countries of the region;
    • between rural and urban areas
    • and between households of different sizes and structures – children living in large and/or non-nuclear families have a higher probability of being poor, particularly when there are more than two children, and will have benefited less from economic growth
  • However, the factors associated with poverty – place of residence, larger families, non-nuclear families, the employment status of the parents and the age of the child - are similar across all countries and the more factors present, the higher the risk of child income poverty.
  • These associations are stronger for the countries with lower poverty rates, where concentrations of child poverty and deprivation are becoming more evident.
  • Child income poverty is higher in countries with younger demographic structures: countries with aging populations, for example, Russia or Bulgaria, have significantly lower child poverty rates than countries such as Uzbekistan or Tajikistan where children represent far larger shares of the total population.
  • Due to the size of its population, Russia is home of about one fifth of all poor children. One forth of one region’s poor children live in Uzbekistan.
  • Child income poverty has declined since 1998. However, non-income indicators of child well-being, in particular those related to health, education and housing, show slower rates of improvement, or no progress, during the same period.
  • Child deprivation in health, education and housing tends to be associated with the same factors as income poverty, reflecting the continuing differentials particularly in the quality of public social services and infrastructure in urban and rural areas,
  • Overall levels of public expenditures on health and education remain low and for many countries have not increased, even in the recent period of economic recovery. The low levels of public expenditure, coupled with the growth in private, out-of-pocket and informal expenditures, have exacerbated the disparities in children’s access to social services.
  • Direct income support in the form of state transfers for households with children are widespread in the region much occurring in the form of pensions. However, income support targeted on children is often of too low value to have a significant impact on poverty reduction
  • The region, in particular the Western CIS countries, Bulgaria and Romania, is reporting high numbers of children living in institutions. Material poverty at the household level is one of the main reasons cited for placing children in institutions. Measures income and other types of support to families in crisis are needed to prevent institutionalization.


  • More visibility for children in setting policy priorities and poverty reduction strategies. It requires timely collection, analysis and dissemination of data and research on the situation of children;
  • More and better public spending on social services (health, education and social    infrastructure); reforms of the budget allocation principles to ensure adequately resources targeted in those regions and population groups most in need;
  • Better targeting and higher levels of social transfers to families with young children in order to provide effective protection from poverty and discourage institutionalization;
  • A policy shift away from the widespread practice of placing children in institutions in some countries of the region, as well as a firm statement of intent to devote more policy efforts and resources to provide social support for families in crisis

The Innocenti Social Monitor 2006 is produced by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre in Florence, Italy. The Social Monitor is a series of regional reports examining the well-being of children in the transition countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. It includes a statistical annex covering a broad range of indicators for the years 1989 to 2004/05.

For further information please contact:

UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence
Salvador Herencia (+39 055) 20 33 354, cell. 0039 335 6549370,;
Patrizia Faustini, (+39 055) 20 33 253,;
Marie Mukangendo (+39 055) 20 33 231,

UNICEF Regional Office CEE/CIS
Lynn Geldof (+41 22) 909 5429, cell (+41 79) 431 1537,

Finnish Committee for UNICEF
Raisa Sulamaa,  00358 9 5845 0242,





Innocenti Social Monitor 2006

Download Innocenti Social Monitor 2006 report

[English] [Russian]

Executive Summary
English [PDF]   

Key findings


 Email this article

unite for children