Scale of child poverty

Child poverty is a big problem in Scotland.

The chart below shows the trends in relative child poverty since 1994/95.

  • After increasing, levels then fell during the late 1990s and mid-2000s.
  • Since 2013 levels have started to increase again.
  • In 2016/17, just under a quarter (23%) of children in Scotland were living in relative poverty.

It also shows that child poverty is likely to further increase through until 2029/30. This however, is not inevitable if action is taken to reduce child poverty at a national and local level.

Trends in relative child poverty since 1994/95.

After increasing, levels then fell during the late 1990s and mid-2000s. 
Since 2013 levels have started to increase again.
In 2016/17, just under a quarter of children in Scotland were living in relative poverty.
Child poverty is likely to further increase through until 2029/30.
Image caption Data source: https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2018/03/2911/5

Who is affected

Two-thirds of children in poverty in Scotland live in working households.

Most children in Scotland living in poverty live in families

  • with one or two children
  • headed by a couple
  • where no-one is disabled
  • in white Scottish households
  • where the mother is aged 25 or older.

However, the risk of poverty is much higher for children in 

  • households where nobody is in paid employment
  • families with three or more children
  • lone parent households
  • households where someone is disabled
  • non-white Scottish households
  • households where the mother is under the age of 25. 

Reducing child poverty is therefore likely to require both population-wide and targeted interventions.

Find out more about the scale of child poverty 

Further information can be found within our briefing, 'Child poverty: Scale, trends and distribution'.