Changing Children's Lives: Risks and Opportunities

Pells, Kirrily and Woodhead, Martin (2014). Changing Children's Lives: Risks and Opportunities. Oxford: Young Lives, Department for International Development, University of Oxford.



This paper summarises emerging findings from the Young Lives longitudinal study of childhood poverty in Ethiopia, the state of Andhra Pradesh in India, Peru and Vietnam. It examines how children’s development is shaped by different environmental influences, highlighting the changes in children’s daily lives during the first decade of the twenty-first century, including the changing nature of risks and opportunities. We offer six key research messages, focusing on:
1. how the poorest children continue to be left behind despite rising living standards overall, illustrated by the increased concentration of stunting.
2. the vulnerability of children in poor households to repeated environmental and economic shocks and the potential of social protection schemes to alleviate these problems.
3. how rapid changes in people’s living environment, such as the expansion of basic services, roads and communications, bring new opportunities but also risk reinforcing the social exclusion of poor and marginalised children.
4. the current shortfalls in school quality, effectiveness and relevance that limit the potentially transformative power of education.
5. how children continue to face competing pressures on their time through combining schooling with traditional work roles and contributions to the household.
6. how rapid social change is creating new dilemmas within households and communities about how best to protect children and prepare them for the future.

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