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International report suggests rich countries risk leaving disadvantaged children behind

Posted on 19 April 2016

SPSW staff author latest UNICEF Report Card which assesses how rich countries fare in promoting child well-being

UNICEF Report Card

UNICEF’s long-running Report Card series provides a regular assessment of how rich countries fare in promoting child well-being. The latest report, ‘Fairness for Children’, was written by John Hudson and Stefan Kühner. It shows that many countries, including the UK, could do more to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged children.

UNICEF’s Report Card series provides a regular assessment of how rich countries fare in promoting child well-being. Fairness for Children focuses on how far countries in the EU and OECD allow their most disadvantaged children to fall behind the ‘average’ child, also termed ‘bottom end inequality’.

The Report Card examined outcomes in 41 rich countries using survey data capturing the voices of more than half-a-million children. Four child well-being domains were examined: income, education, health, and life satisfaction. Dr Kühner says: “Despite some positive results in the areas of educational achievements, healthy eating and physical activity, bottom end inequality in child well-being has increased in the majority of countries we examined. In about a third of these countries increases are substantial.” One of the Report Card’s major findings is that more equal societies tend to have better child well-being outcomes. This applies not only in terms of income inequality but inequalities in education, health and life satisfaction too.

Professor Hudson says: “The Report Card demonstrates the need to place equity at the heart of child well-being agendas. From a UK perspective the message is one of ‘could do better’. There have been some improvements in child well-being outcomes since the early 2000s but not enough is being done to give the most disadvantaged children a fair start to life.” Fairness for Children can be downloaded from the Unicef-irc website. More detail on the UK results can be found in a blog by John Hudson and Stefan Kühner.

The Report Card  is the latest in a series of major publications on child well-being involving members of the Department of Social Policy & Social Work. Last week saw the launch of The Well-being of Children in the UK edited by Professor Jonathan Bradshaw and last month published a major study on children’s views on their lives and well-being in 16 countries.

The Department is home to the Centre for Childhood, Youth and Family Research directed by Dr Christine Skinner and Dr Aniela Wenham.