Neighbourhood influences child poverty in Norway

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-13 19:45:32|Editor: Zhou Xin
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OSLO, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- The nature of neighbourhood where children grow up in affects their chances in future, newspaper Aftenposten reported Sunday.

The report finds that in the Oslo area of Nedre Toyen, two out of three children live in poor families, while just several steps from there, in the Kampen area, the proportion is one in five.

Citing a recent research, Aftenposten wrote that the differences in child poverty in different areas of Oslo appeared to be far greater than the variations between the districts themselves.

While in three areas in the borough of Gamle Oslo more than 50 percent of the children grow up in poor families, in the western areas the same applies to only 5 percent of them.

"One can be alarmed by looking at the numbers in some of the areas. It is bad when 64 percent of the children in Nedre Toyen grow up below the poverty line. This reproduces social inequalities in the area," Ingar Brattbakk, researcher at the Work Research Institute (AFI) told Aftenposten.

Brattbakk and his colleague Bengt Andersen have made a report on neighborhood effects.

They concluded that the place that children grow up in has a meaning of itself for their opportunities later in life.

The report reviews both Norwegian and international research on the neighborhood effect.

"It would be going too far to say that you get poor by living in a poor area. However, living in an area with many neighbors who have poor living conditions, low income and education reduces one's chances in life," Brattbakk said.

According to the report, there has been much research on family background and the importance of school in Norway, but much less on the impact of neighborhoods and close environment.

The report has, among other things, shown that children and adolescents from families holding a lower socioeconomic position are more affected by the neighborhood than those who come from homes where parents have higher education and income.

The higher the proportion of upper-class parents in the neighborhoods of young people, the bigger is the likelihood for youths themselves to take up elite education and achieve an upper-class position in adulthood, the researchers concluded.

"The neighborhood is an important arena for development of what is called 'social and cultural capital', which in everyday language means good network, such as contacts that can help you get a job as an adult or language and skills that make it easier to succeed at school," Brattbakk said.

Child poverty is particularly high among certain immigrant groups, but almost half of the children in low income families are ethnic Norwegian, Aftenposten wrote.

"There are many good measures described in the government's strategy against child poverty, but many of them are primarily about relieving rather than counteracting social inequality," Brattbakk stated.

Mari Trommald, director of Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir), expressed worry about increasing differences in child poverty in Oslo districts.

"We are worried that development is going the wrong way. The figures show that in a few years poverty has grown even bigger in suburbs where it was also great five years ago. In many of the western districts it is the opposite," she said.

Poor children are at greater risk of less education, falling outside the workplace and getting worse health than other children. This effect is enhanced when they also live in neighborhoods where many others struggle with the same problems, Trommald said.

Other Norwegian cities also have high child poverty, but Oslo is in a special position, Aftenposten reported.

Alna district of Oslo has as many children in poor families as the entire municipality of Trondheim together and four of the districts in Oslo each have significantly more children in poor families than total number in Stavanger.