Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research

No 4/2008: The Dynamics of Child Poverty in Sweden

Matthew J. Lindquist () and Gabriella Sjögren Lindquist ()
Additional contact information
Matthew J. Lindquist: Dept. of Economics, Postal: Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Gabriella Sjögren Lindquist: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Postal: SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to study (empirically) the dynamics of child poverty in Sweden, the quintessential welfare state. We find that 1 out of every 5 children is disposable income poor at least once during his or her childhood, while only 2 percent of all children are chronically poor. We also document a strong life-cycle profile for child poverty. Just over 20 percent of all children are born into poverty. The average poverty rate then drops dramatically to about 7.5 percent among 1-year old children. After which, it declines (monotonically) to about 3.9 percent among 17-year olds. Children in Sweden are largely protected (economically) from a number of quite serious events, such as parental unemployment, sickness and death. Family dissolution and longterm unemployment, however, do push children into poverty. But for most of these children, poverty is only temporary. Single mothers, for example, are overrepresented among the poor, but not among the chronically poor. Children with immigrant parents are strongly overrepresented among the chronically poor; as are children whose parents have unusually low educations. We argue that information about the dynamics of child poverty may help policy makers to construct more salient policies for fighting child poverty.

Keywords: child poverty; chronic poverty; poverty dynamics

JEL-codes: I32; J13

40 pages, October 1, 2008

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