Our themes

Our themes

Our research and policy engagement strategy is informed by three core narratives about children's lives emerging from our research to date. These core narratives reflect the breadth of children’s experiences and the way different aspects of their lives are interlinked and influence each other.  We also conduct more specific and sector-aligned research on core topics that matter for children at different age points – particularly in relation to their nutrition and health, education and learning, and youth and development.

The life-course: what shapes children's development

Poverty and associated risks can have profound implications for children that last throughout their lives and affect future generations. By the age of 8, one in three of the Young Lives children born in the least poor households could read and write well; among the poorest children it was just one in fifty. Our life-course perspective highlights what matters most at which age points, how far influences in early childhood are critical for long-term outcomes, the ways they may have cumulative effects as children grow up, as well as the scope for intervention at various points. A key contribution of this analysis is in exploring the timing of critical influences and experiences that affect children’s outcomes, including the factors that increase (or reduce) resilience.

Changing children’s lives: new risks and opportunities

Children’s development and well-being are significantly influenced by their family and community environment, with economic and social change, including the rise of formal education, having profound implications for children. Poverty reduction and improved access to services and schooling have reduced some risks and created new opportunities for many children. Our findings highlight the tensions between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ attitudes and practices affecting children and young people. Research focuses on the impacts of economic and environmental changes, how increasing school enrolment translates into academic achievement, children’s aspirations and prospects, time-use, economic activity, and family roles and responsibilities.

What inequality means for children

Poverty, deprivation and risk are concentrated in particular social and economic groups or localities, with dramatic disparities in child development outcomes. For example, within the Young Lives sample in Peru, poor children in urban areas are four times more likely to be stunted than children from the least poor families. This stream of our work explores the extent of inequalities between groups of children and how these inequalities change and accumulate over time, affecting children’s development and, through this, the opportunities open to them.

We need to end child poverty in order to break the cycle of poverty.