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Measuring child benefits: Measuring child poverty

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Mendelson, Michael
Publication Date: 
1 Feb 2005


This report addresses two critical questions in social policy: what is child poverty and how much is an adequate child benefit? To answer these questions, the report provides an analytic basis to distinguish between poverty among families with children and that element of their poverty that is properly understood as 'child poverty.' It argues that child benefits should cover the incremental cost of raising a child in a family living just above poverty levels. But to estimate an adequate child benefit, we must then define 'poverty.' Building upon a critical review of Canadian and international research, the report describes two alternative methodologies that could be adopted to develop a well-grounded Canadian poverty line. The report provides a number of preliminary quantitative estimates of the value of an adequate child benefit according to these methodologies. This report will challenge your understanding of 'child poverty,' how it should be measured and the role of child benefits in addressing it.