How Poverty Impacts on Children in Singapore and UK


HowPoverty Impacts on Children in Singapore and UK

HowPoverty Impacts Children in Singapore and UK


Oneof the major factors that impact child development is he financialstability of his/her family. When children are born into wealthyfamilies, there has a higher chance to achieve their goals such aseducation and career. However, when families are faced with financialhandicaps, therein comes the issue of poverty, which adverselyaffects child development. The true way of measuring any nation’sstanding is how well it takes care of its children: their safety,health, and their possessions not forgetting their education andsocialization. In addition, it also matters how their impression tobe loved, valued, and incorporated within their families and thelarger society is perceived. To ensure optimal childcare and promotebetter child outcomes, nations must fight poverty since it presents asignificant threat to child well-being. Poverty damages the lifechances gotten by children, their health, education, self-esteem andsocial life. Poverty levels vary among different countries with eachcountry experiencing different consequences among children living inpoverty. The review of comparative international data on povertyhelps countries to learn from each other and promotes the developmentof policies that reduce poverty to improve child wellbeing.

Officiallyknown as the republic of Singapore, Singapore is an island countrywhich is located in the southern region of the continent Asia. Withan estimated population of 6 million people, and which is stillgrowing, the country is referred as a developed country. The countryis one of the richest in the Asian region and was part of the fourAsian tigers/Asian dragons due to the country being among in theAsian to be industrialized. However, with a $297.9 billion GDP, thecountry has an estimated one-tenth of its population living under thepoverty (Lee 2001). At the modern time, the difference between theincomes among people has become more noticeable than before. Unlikethe case of countries like China and India, the country (Singapore)is small and the poor and the rich live within each other’sproximity. In summary, one of the disturbing issues is Singapore isthat, people who live at the bottom in terms of income (20percentile), spends more they earn. Despite being regarded as adeveloped nation, Singapore children are also affected by theincreasing gap between the rich and the poor. Poverty among childrencomes from their families. Ranging from dropping from schools, poorhealth facilities, among other negative impacts, poverty haveaffected the children in Singapore (Lee 2001).

UnitedKingdom (UK) is one of the prominent nations globally. Inhibited withan estimated 64.5 million people, the country has the fifth largesteconomy. However, despite the country’s massive development andglobal recognition, 22% of its population is regarded to be inpoverty. The UK is made by countries such as England, Wales, Scotlandand Northern Ireland. The levels of poverty are measured in terms ofincome per household. In the UK, a household is said to be poverty ifthe income after tax is less than 60%. Poverty among families hasequally affected the well-being of the UK children who live underpoverty lines, means going without proper education, hungry, and poorhealth histories. Despite the two countries being regarded asdeveloped countries, there is the issue of poverty among thepopulation, which in turn affects the children in the countries. Thispaper will form an analysis of the poverty among children in bothcountries (The UK, and Singapore). In the paper compares, andcontrasts the consequences of poverty to children in the two nations.

Anestimated 3.5 million children in the UK are living in poverty with1.9 million children living in households, where their parents areunemployed. The proportion of children living in poverty in the UKhas risen from 14% in 1979 to 27% in 2012. According to the child’spoverty commission 2.3 million children lived in relative poverty in2014 in the UK (Mason, 2015). With fears of continuing the trend, theInstitute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) estimated that more than 800,000children will be pushed into poverty by 2020 bringing the totalpopulation of children living in poverty to 33%. In Singapore, anestimated 26% of the population live in poverty. The poverty rate inSingapore has also grown from 16% in 2002 to 26% in 2013. Anestimated 40% of Singaporeans would be living in poverty by 2025 ifthis trend continues (Ngerng, 2013). From the poverty statistics, thetwo countries are almost at per terms of child poverty. However, thepoverty levels have different consequences in both countries.

Tostart with children from poor families in the UK miss out on majorsocial occasions such as celebrating their birthdays as their parentscannot afford. Poverty also leads to social deprivation byrestricting such children from attending social events (Children’sSociety, n. d). As a result, the children from poor families in theUK have fewer opportunities for socialization and making friends asopposed to their rich counterparts. Despite the reduced socializationopportunities, children from poor families are also singled out byother children who do not want to associate with the poor makingsocialization all the more difficult for them. A research by theChildren’s Society in the UK revealed that children growing up inpoverty had a higher risk of suffering from low self-esteem andsocial isolation because of reduced socialization (Children’sSociety, n. d).

Thesame case applies to children living in poverty in Singapore.Financial wellbeing influence child development in all aspects oflife, including social development with poverty adversely affectingit. According to Treanor (2012), “young children are the mostvulnerable to the harmful effects of poverty. Children in povertyoften lag behind their peers in social and intellectual developmentas they do not have access to the same educational and necessaryresources”. Consequently, children living in poverty in bothcountries do not develop their interpersonal skills which make themshy and uncomfortable in social situations due to their communicationchallenges. The stunted social development may also extend to adultlife since communication is a vital skill in living and working.

Povertyalso denies children crucial services such as healthcare in bothcountries. In the UK, children growing up in poor families facemultiple challenges in relation to health. They have an increasedrisk of being born premature and have low birth weight (200 gramsless than their rich counterparts) (Treanor, 2012). Such children arethree times at higher risk of mental illness than their affluentpeers in the UK. In addition, poverty increases the risk ofaccidental death 13 times in the UK as well as increased risk oflong-term and life-threatening illness (Children’s Society, n. d).Poor families have limited accessibility to quality healthcare as thefamilies cannot afford medical insurance. Such families rely ongovernment health aid which does not match the care gotten by thechildren from rich families. All these factors have increased thechances of children living in poverty to die in their first year oflife and reduced their overall life expectancy by 8 years (Treanor,2012).

Povertyin Singapore also leads to exclusion from quality healthcare services(Donaldson et al., 2014). Children from poor families have poorhealth outcomes relative to those from well up families. In fact,there is a saying in Singapore is highlighting the health challengesfaced by the poor “being sick in Singapore, you should be rich butif poor, do not get sick.” According to Leyl, (2014) a Singaporeanpoor mother cited “no one can afford to get sick in this housebecause our finances are too tight. It`s quite tough and a strugglefor me to be raising them up.” The mother was unable to affordasthma medicine for her second daughter for many months, signifyingthat children from poor families in Singapore do not get qualityhealth care services. In addition, children from poor families inSingapore lack adequate nutrition, feeding mostly on rice whichtranslates to health outcomes.

Interms of education, children from poor families lag behind. Suchchildren are estimated to be nine months behind those from wealthybackgrounds (Vasagar, 2012). The Department of Education (UK)estimates that children who receive free school meals are three termsbehind the others by the end of primary education (Gov. UK, 2010).Children from poor families also achieve 1.7 grades lower in the GCSEwhich translates to less academic opportunities (Children’sSociety, n. d). These differences extend to secondary education. TheUK Department for Education (DfE) statistics shows that only 26.6% ofstudents taking free school meals (FSM) achieve five or more Aswhereas 54.2% of those not eligible for FSM achieve the same (Gov.UK, 2010).

InSingapore, poverty also has a profound impact on child schoolingleading to the inability to pay for the required schooling resourcessuch as school uniforms, study guides, and school trips andexcursions (Seah, 2013). There is high, social stratification in theeducation system in Singapore, where children from well-off familiesgo to top schools, translating to better performance and betteropportunities as opposed to those from poor families (Rice, 2006).The Singapore government provides kindergarten fee assistance to thepoor. However, the quality of education in the public facilitiesattended by the poor. As a result, students from the advantagedschools who are mainly from rich backgrounds progress more easilythan those of the poor. 60% of students from high-income areasprogress as compared to 20% of low-income households. In addition,only 13% of students from poor families reach the undergraduate levelin Singapore as opposed to 25% of those from the rich (Ngerng 2013).

Povertyleads to poor housing, homelessness, and unfavorable livingconditions such as slums where living conditions are below theexpected level. This is where the environment is marked with poorsanitation, poor health habits, among other vices. Affected childrenfeel unsafe about their locality. Such children also have troublesleeping, studying, and playing owing to the constant interruptions.In the UK, more than a million children live in bad housing. Thesechildren live in overcrowded areas and do not enjoy a place to play(McAdam, 2007). Their families also keep on moving from one residenceto another. This makes it harder for the children to make friends anddevelop mature relationships over time. The poor housing alsoviolates privacy putting immense pressure on the family relationshipsand cause the children to resent their parents for not being able toprovide them with decent housing (Rice, 2006). The play areas in poorneighborhoods are generally of poorer quality when compared to richareas. The poor children in Singapore are at risk of injury fromstrangers, underage alcohol and drug abuse and misbehavior (Yap andYeung, n.d.).

Inaddition, poverty impacts on a child’s experience. Economic andmaterial deprivation make children anxious of their family having togo without essential things such as food and clothes. It affects thesubjective well-being of the child, which is their satisfaction withthe life they live (Treanor, 2012). Research by The Children’sSociety in the UK revealed that economic factors have a significantimpact on children’s subjective well-being. In the study, childrenfrom low-income households had lower average scores of satisfactionwith their lives than those from high-income households. Childrenfrom poor families face a lot of stigmatization from those from wellup families. Such children are also bullied by others and ridiculeddue to the visible signs of poverty. Children living in poorneighborhoods in the UK are more vulnerable to bullying which has adevastating effect on the child. It reduces the level of happiness ofthe child, his/her confidence, and leads to injuries. Such childrensuffer from low self-esteem and many develop personality disorderslater in life (Wee Yen Yen, n.d.). In Singapore, poor children arealso teased in school by their rich counterparts, which affects theiroverall performance in school and confidence. Such children laterhave personality disorders such as being paranoid.

Differentapproached has been implemented to curb the menace among the nations,with every country embarking on its own course to curb poverty amongits people. However, some of the similar measures that have beenadopted include creation of employment among the families, governmentfinancial grants, provision of better housing facilities, healthcarefacilities being improved and provided and lower cost, as well asprovision of free education among the children.


Povertyhas many negative consequences for children in both the UK and inSingapore. Children living in poor areas have challengesparticipating in social and group activities. They are unable to keepup with their rich counterparts in class since their ability to takefull advantage of learning opportunities is limited by the lack ofadequate income to meet the extra costs in schools. They also sufferfrom low self-esteem, feel ashamed, excluded, and stigmatized insocial situations. Therefore, to curb these negative effects, the UKand Singapore governments should put up measures to reduce povertyand limit its negative impacts on children. Interventions focus onreducing the inequalities in opportunities between the poor and therich as well as promoting better outcomes of children from poorbackgrounds.

Parentsshould also focus on having good relationships as it promotes thewell-being of children and empowers them with the ability to overcomethe detrimental effects of poverty. From the information provided inthe paper, not only does poverty led children through suffering butit also negatively affects them psychologically. By going throughstigmatization, inability to access the best services such as foodand education, poor sanitation around their homes, quarrels, andsocial vices, the psychological development is negative affected.However, the approach or the measures offered by the administrationin alleviating this trend among the people is different. In theUnited Kingdom, the government has embarked on government offers, aswell as offering improved housing for the affected families. InSingapore, the trend is more badly compared to the UK, as theavailability of slams has made it harder to curb the spread ofpoverty, and its impact of the children population.


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