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The US has some of the worst child poverty rates in the developed world

Reuters/David McNew
A child at a free Good Friday meal in Los Angeles, where the homeless population has risen since 2011.
By Sonali Kohli
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Almost a third of children in the US—24.2 million out of 73.7 million—were poor in 2012, according to a new UN report on child poverty (pdf) in the world’s rich countries.

And in 41 of the most affluent countries in the world, 76.5 million children lived in poverty, meaning about a third of those were American.

The UN analysis defines poverty as 60% of each country’s median income in 2008. It uses that same income (adjusted for inflation) for the 2012 numbers. The 2008 benchmark offers a pre-recession comparison, allowing for the measurement of changes in poverty rates during the recession.

Here’s a list of all the countries in the report, and the percentage of each country’s children that live in poverty:

Though the US child poverty rate overall only changed slightly during the recession, rising two percentage points between 2008 and 2012, child poverty increased in 34 US states between 2006 and 2011. Throughout the country, there were 1.7 million more children living in poverty in 2012 than there were in 2008.

The European countries that top the list, meanwhile, started at child poverty rates below the US in 2008 and increased dramatically over those same four years: Greece jumped from 23% of children living in poverty in 2008 to 41% in 2012; Latvia shifted from 24% to 38%, and Spain from 28% to 36%.

Eighteen of the countries in the report managed to reduce their levels of child poverty during the recession, though. Chile had the greatest reduction, from 31% to 23%, and Poland dropped from 22% to 15%.

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