Child poverty is taking root in cities, with rates increasing in recent years compared to decreasing data in rural areas. In addition, cities hide behind their average data great inequalities and situations of more acute poverty. One of the factors that most weighs down vulnerable families in cities is housing, as they have pointed out various analyzes. The High Commissioner Against Child Poverty has published a study this Tuesday that indicates that households with children with fewer resources in large cities pay on average “22%” more in housing than those with that level of income who reside in small towns .
Housing is once again the factor that most drags social exclusion in Spain
The body, which publishes frequently analysis documents To delve into child poverty in Spain, this time focuses on the differences between large and small populations. The data is higher in rural areas, with a moderate child poverty rate of 29.6% in sparsely populated areas versus 27.6% in large populations, but the numbers are getting closer. Since 2013, child poverty has been reduced in sparsely populated areas, while it has increased in cities in a process that they describe as the “redevelopment” of poverty, cutting the distance between the two data by 13 points.
Although the document does not elaborate on the causes of this divergence in the evolution of child poverty in cities and rural areas in recent years, it does draw attention to an element that weighs more heavily on families in cities: housing costs.
The High Commissioner studies, based on spending data from the Household Budget Survey (2020), the differences in the cost of living of households with minors in rural and urban settings. The researchers divide households into five groups, according to income level and stop at the one with the lowest income. When they analyze their accounts, they observe that “in the poorest quintile there is little variation in total household spending depending on the size of the municipality.” However, when these expenses are broken down, the largest ‘bite’ in the family accounts that housing in cities supposes compared to smaller populations stands out.
“In the cost of housing, which includes not only the rent or mortgage, but also supplies or services (community, gas, water, electricity) or maintenance and repair, the image is different,” the document from the High Commissioner states. . “A household from the quintile with the lowest income in a city with more than 100,000 inhabitants spends on average 22% more money on housing than a household from the same group that lives in a municipality with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants” The report.
Double the number of households with an “extra cost” in housing
There are other data that portray the economic effort that housing implies in cities and that makes life especially difficult for those who have the least. Specifically, the study looks at the “cost overrun” in housing, a situation that implies dedicating more than 40% of total household income to cover these expenses.
In cities, the percentage of children living in households with this problem of “cost overrun” in housing is double that of sparsely populated areas. “13.4%” of minors living in cities face this excessive spending on housing at home, which therefore limits investment in other items, compared to “6.4%” of children and girls from sparsely populated areas, the study details.
“A determining factor” in the higher cost overruns in housing and the degree of urbanization is due to “differences in the tenure system” of households, the study adds. While in highly populated areas “42.5%” of boys and girls at risk of poverty live in rent, in sparsely populated areas this percentage is greatly reduced, “to 27.4%”, with more families who live in property without a mortgage “24.5%, compared to 15% in highly populated areas.” Many vulnerable families rent because they cannot afford to buy a home, but high rent prices in cities hurt their income and place a heavy burden on their family finances.
Attention to inequalities
The High Commissioner will continue to analyze other factors that may have contributed to the different evolution of child poverty in cities and small towns, such as educational resources, the agency explains. The objective is to detect pockets of poverty and where the greatest challenges and deficits faced by families lie, in order to better direct public policies against poverty.
“Growing up in poverty in large urban areas and sparsely populated areas presents different challenges and requires different policies,” concludes the High Commissioner. For example, less populated environments face difficulties such as “lack of job opportunities, demographic imbalance, scarce educational offer and access to basic services and lack of adequate infrastructure,” the report indicates, while cities encounter problems such as greater intensity of poverty (more “high” and “severe” poverty than in less populated areas) and “characterized by greater inequality, residential segregation and high cost of living”.
The agency underlines the importance of diving in the different realities of cities, especially the largest ones with high levels of inequality, where situations of great economic difficulty are often camouflaged behind average data, also influenced by the presence of many other minors who reside in very high-income households. The High Commissioner gives as an example two neighboring districts of Madrid: Tetuan and Chamartín. “In the first, child poverty is 31.5% and in the second, just 8.9%,” the study highlights. “It is important to highlight that the urban area of Madrid is the one with the highest number of children and adolescents living in poverty”, with a total of 230,000 in this situation, 9% nationwide.