East Asia and the Pacific: Study on Child Poverty and Disparities



Focal points for the Child Poverty Study in East Asia and the Pacific are Patel, Mahesh and Paienjton, Qimti


Study Abstract


This study is the first measurement of multidimensional child poverty at the regional level in East Asia and the Pacific. It is based on seven countries in the region: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu and Viet Nam. The study results show that, of the 93 million children who live in these seven countries, approximately 54% experience poverty, as measured by deprivation of basic needs.

In 2006, approximately 36% of children suffered severe deprivation in at least one of the seven dimensions identified as relevant for child poverty (food, water, shelter, sanitation, health, education and information) and approximately 14% suffered from severe deprivation in multiple dimensions. In the group of countries with the highest rates of child poverty (Cambodia, Lao PDR and Mongolia), approximately 83% of children were severely deprived in at least one dimension.

This study also highlights existing disparities within countries in the region. For example, in Viet Nam, children from ethnic minority groups are 11 times more likely to suffer from multiple severe deprivations than children from ethnic majority groups – an unfortunate pattern found in many other countries. Child poverty was 30 per cent higher in rural Cambodia than in urban areas, 60 per cent higher in rural Thailand and 130 per cent higher in rural Philippines. So tackling child poverty will also mean talking inequity and exclusion.


Study Policy Recommendations

  • Broaden poverty measurement to include child poverty, taking into account deprivations in food, water, shelter, sanitation, health, education and information;
  • Pay greater attention to the needs of children in national development plans and poverty reduction strategies;
  • Use the evidence on multidimensional deprivations and disparities to allocate resources more equitably;
  • Address the needs of the most vulnerable children through sectoral policies and child-sensitive social protection systems.

Child Poverty Study in the News

§  Child poverty Q&A with Mahesh Patel, UNICEF Regional Social Policy Advisor

Mahesh Patel, UNICEF Social Policy Advisor, talks about child poverty and why it matters to governments, as highlighted in the new study Child Poverty in East Asia and the Pacific: Deprivations and Disparities.

-You Tube

§ Blog: Child poverty: An interview with Mahesh Patel, UNICEF Regional Social Policy Adviser

“A newly unemployed adult is likely to eventually find work. A child who does not eat enough will be stunted for life.  A child who drops out of school will probably never resume their education.”

Mahesh Patel

- By Geoffrey Keele, Communication Specialist, UNICEF East Asia & Pacific


§ UNICEF study provides new insight into how poverty affects children


NEW YORK (November 22, 2011)—A new UNICEF study analyzing child poverty in East Asia and the Pacific emphasizes that poverty affects children in vastly different ways than adults.




§   Millions of children in E.Asia, Pacific deprived of essential services - UNICEF

More than 30 million children in seven countries in East Asia and the Pacific are deprived of at least one essential service such as basic healthcare, safe drinking water or access to education, according to a United Nations study.

-   AlertNet