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Why is poverty on the rise in Europe and what can be done? Insiders’ Sophie Claudet speaks to Monika Queisser, head of social policy at the OECD.

Sophie Claudet, Euronews: Monika Queisser thanks for being with us.

“We saw in our report in Spain that child poverty often translates into malnutrition. What else should we be watching for?”

Monika Queisser, head of social policy, OECD:

“Child poverty is of course first of all poverty of households with children. So it is very important that the parents find work, and well-paid work, in order to reduce child poverty. But then there are other measures needed to help families with children have a good life quality: for example, childcare has to be available so that parents can go out and work. But children are also sometimes not able to participate in social life: parents cannot afford to send them on school trips, they cannot take music lessons, and in some countries, we even see in winter that children live in houses that are poorly heated, so that is another indicator to watch out for, which adds to malnutrition.”

Sophie Claudet, Euronews:

“One would think that if you start in life at such a disadvantage it’s going to impact the rest of your life.”

Monika Queisser, OECD:

“People who have had a difficult childhood, a poor childhood, do less well in school, do less well in the labour market, are not able to make a good living, and this inequality keeps compounding all throughout their lifecycle. By the age of 50, people are faced with very deeply entrenched inequality, and when they then reach retirement, it’s very difficult for retirement and pension policies to make up for everything that has been going wrong over people’s lifecyle.”

Sophie Claudet, Euronews: “Is it fair to say that austerity measures have translated into less social policies and that the most vulnerable are being affected?”

Monika Queisser, OECD: “Some countries have been able to have budgetary austerity while protecting the most vulnerable groups. Other countries have been less successful in doing this. And in the case of Spain (which we just saw) there is a problem with child benefits and child policies also being paid at the local level, and when you are in a community that is very poor and when the community does not have any more means to pay those benefits, then children will of course suffer disproportionately. Many southern European countries have designed their policies in a way that most of the money and most of the emphasis goes to pension policies, and while many retirees are of course in need, that means there’s very little space for poor people of working age or poor children to receive any benefits.”

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