New research shows link between current economy and children's well-being

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Elaine Hindal, Director of our Campaign for Childhood, explains why she's worried about the decline in the well-being of our poorest children.

A child

This week we released new research showing the link between the current economic situation and the well-being (happiness and a number of other factors) of Britain's children and teenagers.

Finding that the poorest and most vulnerable young people have the lowest well-being (which will only get worse with the perilous economic situation) may not have been hugely surprising, but it is sobering nonetheless. With the British economy still hovering in precarious waters, the well-being of our children is an issue that I am deeply concerned about.

The poorest are three times more likely to have low well-being than the richest

So why am I worried?

Firstly, the life satisfaction of the poorest children and young people is so much lower than those living in wealthier families. The poorest are three times more likely to have low well-being than the richest. Society’s most vulnerable children are suffering.

Secondly, things are only getting worse for this group of youngsters. The research shows that where a family’s economic situation falls, so does a child or young person's well-being. As cuts bite it will be the poorest children who suffer.

Thirdly, poor well-being may lead to a whole range of issues, such as poor mental health and educational attainment. The consequences of low well-being are potentially as bad, if not worse, than the low well-being itself.

Which could mean that the economic and social problems that young people are facing now may not be sorted for a generation.

We need to act now

But it's not all bad. People are increasingly realising that children's well-being is important. Children are having a voice in how they are doing and people are sitting up and listening. The most vulnerable children have told us that they're not immune to the potentially devastating effects of the recession. Now we need to act.

Elaine Hindal is Director of the Campaign for Childhood Division at The Children's Society

 

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