Examining correlations between austerity measures taken by EU states in times of the Great Recession of 2008 and child health, a new research article reviews relevant literature in the last 5 years on countries that applied such measures linking it to the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Here are some highlights:
- Austerity measures describe governments` responses to the 2008 economic crisis which is characterized by reducing social spending and increasing taxation.
- Greece, Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom are among the countries which applied the highest levels of austerity.
- Cuts in education, healthcare and other public services affect the most vulnerable groups of children and youth.
- Countries which introduced harsh austerity policies indicate an increase in material deprivation, child poverty and lower birth levels compared to pre-2008 times.
- Between 2008 and 2013, higher levels of social protection spenditure correlate to lower levels of child poverty.
- Austerity is found to be related to limited access to and lower quality of services especially when it comes to children with disabilities.
- Decreased public health budgets are associated with limited vaccination coverage in Italy.
Austerity and COVID-19
- Early research shows the pandemic situation affects vulnerable persons the most.
- In the long term, the indirect effects of the pandemic will have profound consequences for children, particularly for poor children.
- Preventive health child services (e.g. immunization) are negatively impacted.
- Lockdown measures and social distancing result in increased hunger, mental health problems, and the risk of abuse and neglect.
- Closing schools and other care facilities appear to be contribute factor in decreased visibility of neglect and domestic violence.
- Continuous austerity policies are expected after the end of the acute phase of the pandemic which will harm the capacity of social and health systems to respond.