The good news: In a statistic on child poverty, Romania is just one spot behind the USA, one of the richest countries in the world. That’s a remarkable achievement for a country which had to rebuild its economy from scratch after the fall of communism only 25 years ago.
The bad news: The USA are second to last in that league.
Please note that this chart depicts relative child poverty, which will be at a different level in each country of course. The introductory comparison between rich and poor countries is thus less relevant. It is more a question of inclusivity, distribution and the state’s priorities.
Generally, these statistics have to be read with a lot of caution. If the data are collected nationally, they might already be incomparable due to that. Then, household income is far more relevant for a child’s well-being in countries where fewer services are provided by the state. If school and medical care are free (or tax-payer funded), the parents’ low income must not have the same negative effect as in countries where you need to pay for school and for each vaccination.
As to applying the median income as a reference point, good arguments can be made for the equality versus the sufficiency view. Yet it would still be more helpful (particularly for developing policies) to see what percentage of children are undernourished or malnourished (which includes obesity, which could well be a problem in rich families), what percentage go to work or school at what age, how many don’t have electricity or running water at home, how many children haven’t seen a doctor in years, and so on. Because in the very extreme, living at 50% below the national median income may simply mean that children have an iPhone 4 instead of an iPhone 7.
Lastly, the chart above actually doesn’t depict child poverty but family poverty. Theoretically, it is possible that a child in a poor family is better off than the child of a rich family. In reality though, a child’s future is often determined by how they grow up, and a lot of talent and potential is wasted by not raising people out of poverty. Beyond the individual suffering, this is the real social problem.