3. Enough of what matters

Children’s well-being is affected by ‘having enough’ and ‘fitting in’ rather than accumulating material goods purely for its own sake. Family circumstances, household income, and parental employment are key factors which determine whether children have access to these items and experiences.  

  • We developed a child-centred 10-item deprivation index by asking children what they needed to lead a ‘normal kind of life’. The items and experiences in the index with the strongest association to well-being were having access to a garden/ outdoor space, clothes to ‘fit in’ with friends, and monthly trips out with their family. Children lacking three of the 10 items were three times as likely to experience low well-being.
  • Children who have a lot less, or even a lot more, pocket money than their friends have lower levels of well-being. They need enough to ‘fit in’ and participate in activities with friends, but no more.
  • Children who live in poorer households, households experiencing sudden shocks to their economic circumstances, such as an adult losing their job, or households with uncertainty about their economic future are twice as likely to have low well-being as children who live in households that are more economically stable.