Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Inequality in Child Wellbeing

It’s taken me some time to get around to reading ‘The Spirit Level; why equality is better for everyone’ by Wilkinson and Pickett, but now I am mid-way through I have to say that it elicits strong emotions. 

So far the hardest hitting element for me has been the UNICEF index of Child Wellbeing. This index is formed from a complex dataset of over 40 indicators of child wellbeing. The data presented clearly identifies the UK as having the worst index of all the rich nations, which includes comparisons against countries such as Greece, Norway and the Czech Republic. The index takes into consideration 6 different dimensions of overall child wellbeing:

1.      Material wellbeing
2.      Health and safety
3.      Educational wellbeing
4.      Family and peer relationships
5.      Behaviours and risks
6.      Subjective wellbeing

The question for me is why does the UK rank so poorly on this scale; falling behind other nations with even greater levels of inequality such as the USA. Is this really about the level of inequality and risk within our society, is it merely the result of very different methods of data collection by different nations or are there other factor at play in the UK that make our young people more vulnerable than elsewhere in the world?

Any views and comments on this issue are welcomed.

For more information on UNICEFs work on child wellbeing please see follow this link to the UNICEF report ‘An overview of Child Wellbeing in rich countries’

Rachel Quinn
Chief Executive
One East Midlands

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