Changing Children’s Lives: Risks and Opportunities


Children’s development and well-being are significantly influenced by their family and community environment, with poor and marginalised children facing a heavier burden of risk. 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.

It is concluded that poverty reduction and improved access to services and schooling have reduced some risks and created new opportunities for many children. However, the poorest children are being left behind against the backdrop of generally rising living standards. For example, although school enrolment rates have increased, the poorest children most often experience poorer quality education, and while malnutrition and stunting are declining, the reductions are far greater among less poor children. Creating a supportive environment for children’s development requires tackling the structural causes of disadvantage, with a particular focus on poor communities where children experience multiple disadvantages. We anticipate that later phases of Young Lives research will provide further evidence on these issues, as children become young adults and make the transition into work, marriage and parenthood.


Pells, K.; Woodhead, M. Changing Children’s Lives: Risks and Opportunities. Young Lives, Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK (2014) 88 pp. ISBN 978-1-909403-33-8 [Young Lives Policy Paper]

Changing Children’s Lives: Risks and Opportunities

Published 1 January 2014