Children from richer families have better health, higher skills and better relationships with parents and peers, according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Children from poorer families suffer from a lack of opportunity and are more likely to be bullied – particularly in Austria.
The How’s Life? report found that in most of the 34 OECD member countries the gap between rich and poor households was now at its highest level in 30 years.
Austrian children are comparatively better off than the OECD country average – where one in seven children lives in relative poverty – but the child poverty rate in Austria has risen from 7.31 percent in 2007 to 9.1 percent in 2011.
The report defines child poverty as the percentage of under-18s living in households whose disposable income was below 50% of the median.
8.4 percent of under-18s in Austria live in a household where no adult has a job. In families with a migration background, the figure is considerably higher – 15.5 percent.
Austria and Estonia are the worst countries for child bullying, according to the OECD. 17.5 percent of 11, 13 and 15-year-olds claimed to have been physically or verbally attacked at least twice in the past two months by schoolmates. 21.8 percent of young Austrians from low-income families said they were the victims of bullying, compared to 14.3 percent of teenagers from wealthier families. The OECD average was 10.1 percent.
It may come as no surprise that Austria has the highest rates of teenage smoking – Austria has been slow to introduce a complete smoking ban, which won’t come into force until May 2018.
27.3 percent of 15-year-olds said that they smoked cigarettes at least once a week – compared to the OECD average of 16.4 percent. However, figures for binge drinking among teenagers is lower than average and Austrian teenagers participated in more sports and are on average more socially engaged and have better relationships with their parents than their OECD peers.
Since 2007, the biggest rises in child poverty were in Hungary, where the rate has more than doubled, followed by Turkey and Spain, the OECD said.