17 Mar 2011

The Children's Society today (Thursday, 17 March) warns that the current economic situation is having a major impact on children's well-being.

In the run-up to next week's budget (Wednesday, 23 March), the leading children’s charity has released a new report, which found that a decrease in family income is directly related to lower well-being for children.

The report, 'How Happy are our Children? Measuring children's well-being and exploring economic factors', revealed that young people whose family income has decreased in the past year are more than twice as likely to have lower well-being than those whose family income has increased*.

Read the How Happy are our Children report now.

Read Understanding Children's Wellbeing, which has more detailed findings on family economic factors and children's subjective well-being.

Social class has a significant impact on well-being

The research, carried out in October 2010 and February 2011 with 4,000 young people, is part of The Children's Society extensive research programme investigating children’s well-being. It also found that:

  • Social class has a large influence on young people’s well-being. Young people in the lowest social class were three times more likely to have low well-being than the young people in the highest**.    
  • Children whose parents are concerned about the impact of the recession on their family have significantly lower well-being than children with less worried parents.
  • The proportion of young people with low well-being was significantly higher in households where no adults were in full-time work. 16% of young people in households where no one works full time had low well-being, as opposed to under 10% of other children.

Consequences likely to hit the most vulnerable

The Children's Society's Chief Executive Bob Reitemeier said: 'Today’s findings are deeply concerning for everybody who has the interests of Britain's children at heart. As the spending cuts take hold, the well-being of our children is under threat.

The consequences are likely to hit the most vulnerable children hardest. We fear that they will pay a life-long economic and social price for current political decisions. It is vital that when local and national government make cuts that affect our children’s lives, well-being must be prioritised, not forgotten.'

The Children's Society measures the ‘well-being’ of children every three months, in collaboration with the University of York. This is part of the most comprehensive research programme into children and young people’s own accounts of their well-being.

* Of those in households whose income increased, 7% had low well-being, as opposed to 15% for those in households where income had fallen. Where income hadn’t changed, 10% had low well-being.
** In social class ‘E’ 18% of young people had low well-being, as opposed to only 6% of those from social class ‘A’. Social class makes a great deal of difference to young people’s well-being at each end of the economic scale, while in-between these extremes there is little discernible difference. 

Ends.

Media contacts

For more information, or case studies from around the country, please contact Rafi Cooper in The Children's Society press office. Tel: 020 7841 4526. Email: rafi.cooper@childrenssociety.org.uk. Alternatively, please ring 020 7841 4422 to speak to another member of the media team. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors

Well-being: The Children’s Society’s well-being research programme was initiated in 2005 to fill a gap in research regarding young people’s own views of well-being, with a focus on positive rather than negative indicators, and on well-being in the present rather than ‘well-becoming.'

The programme aims to:

  • Develop a better understanding of the concept of well-being as it relates to young people, taking full account of the perspectives of young people themselves.
  • Establish self-report measures of young people’s well-being and use these to identify the reasons for variations in well-being and to monitor changes in well-being over time.
  • The fieldwork for the October 2010 and February 2011 surveys was conducted by Research Now amongst a sample of children from their online consumer panel - just over 2,000 children and young people aged 8 to 15 years old (as there were two combined surveys it was 4,000 children and young people in all)  

The Children's Society wants to create a society where children can be children, childhood is respected and every child is valued for who they are. Our approach is driven by our Christian values and by the voices of children and young people, who are at the heart of all we do.

In 2009 The Children's Society published The Good Childhood Inquiry, the UK's first independent national inquiry into childhood. Its aims were to renew society's understanding of modern childhood and to inform, improve and inspire all our relationships with children. The Children's Society is continuing to improve this understanding of issues affecting children through all of its ongoing work.