Causes of child poverty

Child poverty in Scotland is mainly due to causes, or drivers, partially or wholly outside parents’ control and usually completely outside children’s control. These include aspects of 

  • social security
  • income from employment
  • the costs of living.

Here you can find information on each of these and how the influence they have can vary depending on where children live within Scotland.

Social security

Aspects of social security that can influence child poverty include

  • the generosity of direct social security payments to families with children
  • how fair the conditions attached to receiving this support are
  • how well the system is administered
  • how much it helps parents access other financial support, such as child maintenance.

You can find out more about this on our social security page.

Income from employment

Aspects of work and barriers to work that can influence child poverty include

  • wage levels
  • availability of suitable jobs, hours and vacancies
  • cost and availability of suitable childcare.

You can find out more about this on our employment inequality page.

The costs of living

Aspects of the costs of living that can influence child poverty include 

  • essential living costs of housing, food and fuel
  • extra, unavoidable costs of disability or living in a rural area
  • the extra costs (poverty premium) of having to manage on a low income – such as not being able to pay fuel costs by direct debit or lack of access to a private car
  • extra, unavoidable costs associated with children - such as the cost of the school day.

You can find information specifically about the cost of the school day on our child poverty in schools page.

Differences within Scotland

While the above causes are important in explaining child poverty across Scotland, the relative importance of each may vary from place to place. 

For example, the following may vary between regions, localities and neighbourhoods.  

  • Housing costs, especially private rental costs.
  • Earnings.
  • Competition for jobs and vacancies.
  • Availability and costs of childcare.

Find out more about the causes of child poverty 

Further information on the causes of child poverty in Scotland can be found within our briefing, 'Child poverty: The national and local drivers'.