This paper brings together existing Young Lives research and policy analysis, alongside new findings, to argue that poverty and inequalities are at the heart of childhood risk, shaping which children are at risk, access to sources of protection, and children’s life chances. Drawing on the rounds of survey and qualitative data collection conducted to date, it illustrates how risk is mediated through poverty and structural disadvantage, meaning that children from groups with low social status, from rural areas and the poorest households, have increased risk of having poorer outcomes in education, health and subjective well-being indicators.
The paper begins with an overview of the Young Lives study and definitions of risk, resilience and protection, followed by two key sections. The first section examines how disparities in children’s life chances widen over the life course, with risks being cumulative and compounded, frequently disadvantaging the same children. The second section explores the complex interconnections between risk, protective processes and children’s life chances, through the lens of family illness and death. The paper concludes by considering implications for policy.
Young Lives, Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, UK. 36 pp.