Facilitating Child Poverty

Child Maintenance: An Approach in Facilitating Child Poverty
Salina Makar Abdel Messih
SOC 160-C04
Introduction to Sociology
Article Summary
An article by Hakovirta (2011), entitled “Child maintenance and child poverty: A
comparative analysis” discusses the effects of child maintenance or child support on children
who suffer from poverty. Every country is affected by poverty to some aspect; Hakovirta goes
into depth on the effects of child maintenance, and how it affects children in poverty – including
Canadian youth. She states that there is an “[increase] … of families responsible for raising
children [with] serious challenges for welfare states”(Hakovirta, 2011, p. 249). The author
makes reference to a series of research topics in which they observe how child maintenance can
reduce the poverty of children whose parents do not live together. The author cites previous
studies by Ritakallio and Bradshaw from 2006 that explain how children living in lone-parent
families have a much higher likelihood of poverty and deprivation in almost all cases. Through
Hakovirta’s analysis, one can see the impact of poverty on children specifically in lone-parent
families. In Hakovirta’s article, she presents the idea that if the lone parent receives some kind
of income from the child’s non-residential parent, it can potentially reduce the risk of that child
being affected by poverty. She also states that if the non-residential parent does pay child
maintenance, the parents are more likely to have communication or contact with the child; this
increases the well-being of children after a separation has occurred. Hakovirta (2011) expressed
the need to provide a strong comparative overview of how consistent maintenance payments
could make a significant reduction on the levels of child poverty. With the objective of
understanding poverty and child maintenance, the Luxembourg Income Study Database (from
2004 and 2005) is analyzed to directly see the association between child poverty and
maintenance. The aim of Hakovirta’s study is to revise the evaluation and outcomes that were
reported by “Skinner et al (2007), using the same kind of methodology” (p. 250).
Critical Analysis
This article answers the question of whether maintenance affects child poverty. Many
individuals view impoverishment as something that an individual chooses; however, many
different aspects result in a person suffering from poverty, and this includes child poverty.
Children are born into situations such as a broken family, which can in turn lead them down the
road of poverty. The article uses scientific evidence which includes a thorough analysis of
different countries and how individuals are affected by poverty before and after child
maintenance. Hakovirta (2011) cites data that was collected from 2004-2005, specifically in
Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the USA. Examination of
the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) from 2004 to 2005 shows the national databases of
different countries contain[ing] data on demographic, income, taxation and consumption
variables from over 25 countries and from several points in time (p. 252). The LIS states that it is
a comparative analysis, and is a method of scientific evidence. One can also see that empirical
data is carried through the article of Hakovirta’s study by the percentage of poverty changing
slightly with child maintenance. Scientific evidence is based upon data supported through
experiments, surveys, content analysis or field research, while non-scientific evidence is often
based upon opinions, more subjective examples or analytical reasoning.
Hakovirta (2011) asserts that through child maintenance, poverty rates will decrease in
lone-parent families. Poverty is a known issue throughout the world in different countries,
varying in levels of severity, but is known as a worldwide concern. The author is fixed on an
approach where she feels that child maintenance does not result in substantial reduction in child
poverty, but still has an effect and is an important source of money in a lone parent household.
Hakovirta might have a slight bit of a bias in this study; she was only looking at people in
poverty with regards to lack of child maintenance in lone-parent households, yet poverty
amongst children is pervasive in society. While assuming that the majority of those surveyed
are on an equal level of poverty, different countries vary in their levels of need, which would
automatically display varying results – as stated in her paper. The author notes that throughout
the world, child maintenance contributes to a change in poverty rates, though it may not result in
a drastic change in poverty levels. A prime example supporting her point is that the poverty gap
closed in every country, including Canada, at 23.9%. This supports and strengthens the
hypothesis she presents in her article, as it is statistically reinforced. Her hypothesis is limited by
her exclusion of other factors that can clearly contribute to poverty, such as gender, race,
education, and social environment.
I do agree with Hakovirta’s hypothesis and conclusions, as they are statistically supported
by the poverty gaps in the research data. I believe that individuals who are living in a loneparent surrounding are likely to be affected financially, especially if there is no enforced child
maintenance from the other parent. She clearly concludes that through child maintenance, we
can reduce the rates of poverty to an extent which can in turn help lower the poverty rates of
children in these situations. Thus, Hakovirta’s conclusions are in fact valid and support her
hypothesis on decreasing the poverty rates through child maintenance in lone-parent households.
Application of Critical Thinking
Integrating the Sociological Theory
The various theories in sociology can help frame social issues in a way that better
explains how the many variables are involved and interconnected. The authors of the course text
book, Society: The basics, Macionis, Jansson, and Benoit (2012) discuss Max Weber’s
perceptions of the socio-economic status hierarchy, and relates to what Hakovirta discusses in
her article. Weber’s theory discusses the stratification and the “multi-dimensional ranking rather
than hierarchy of clearly defined classes” (Macionis et al., 2012, p. 200). The authors go into
depth about how there are numerous contributions or elements to social inequality. When one
describes social inequality, it refers to the different dimensions of the social world in the aspect
of wealth. This is related to Hakovirta’s article, which states that children who are residing in a
lone-parent household have the risk of living in poverty.
Additionally, the text also proposes the social conflict paradigm, commonly known as
Marxism (Macionis et al., 2012). Marxism, a theory construct of Karl Marx, is based upon social
stratification and how the entirety of society is layered and systematized. It is discussed how in
every society, the more highly privileged individuals have advantages which can negatively
affect the less fortunate due to an inequality in allocation of, or access to resources. In regards to
the research article, children who are in lone-parent households can be affected from those in
stable homes. Youth suffering from poverty tend to cling to others in the same social class.
Children who are in lone-parent households can be affected greatly by poverty, which has
implications for their place socially.
Newspaper Article
A newspaper article recently published by The Canadian Press illuminates the concern of
single parents and poverty. The article, entitled Poverty Stalks Canada’s Single Parents by
Michael Tutton (September 19, 2012) goes into depth about situations that these single parents
are in, including past addictions or mental health conditions that may have led to the pregnancy
and thereafter led to poverty. There are other issues also arising with the single parents, where a
lack of education contributes to their poverty. Single parents are becoming common in Canada,
and it is stated that “single parents jumped eight per cent between 2006 and 2011” (Statistics
Canada, as cited in Tutton, 2012). This statistic reinforces Hakovirta’s article, with regards to
how children in lone-parent households are or can be subjected to poverty. Tutton’s (2012)
article shows that with education, or by entering the workforce and increasing income, both the
children and their parents are more likely to better their quality of life. Tutton (2012) states that
although single parents will always exist, we need to strive to help those individuals get out of
poverty and give them opportunities to better their lives. In order to have a healthy society, we
need to look at the children first; they are the future. By helping lone parents, who will then raise
healthier children, there is a chance of regression in poverty.
Hakovirta, M. (2011). Child maintenance and child poverty: A comparative analysis. Journal of
Poverty and Social Justice, 19(3), 249-262. doi:10.1332/175982711X596991
Macionis, J.J., Jansson, S.M., & Benoit, C.C. (2013). Society: The basics (5th Canadian ed.).
Scarborough, ON: Prentice Hall Canada Inc.
Tutton, M. (2012, September 19). Poverty stalks Canada’s single parents. The Canadian Press.
Retrieved October 16, 2012, from http://metronews.ca/features/census-2011-families-incanada/375334/poverty-stalks-canadas-single-parents/#