Our themes

Our themes

Our research and policy engagement strategy is clustered around 3 core messages that we see emerging from our research to date:

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 Young Lives 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.

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. This 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 life-course analysis is in exploring the timing of critical influences and experiences that affect children’s outcomes, including 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 poor and marginalised children facing a heavy burden of risk and vulnerability. Economic and social change, including the rise of formal education, has had profound implications for children. We are seeing how poverty reduction and improved access to services and schooling have reduced some risks and created new opportunities for many children. However, the poorest children are being left behind against a backdrop of generally rising living standards. 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.

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