Working Paper 37. 'Children with a good life have to have school bags': Diverse understandings of well-being among older children in three Ethiopian communities.


This paper focuses on children's understandings of well-being and ill-being in resource-poor contexts in Ethiopia, using quantitative and qualitative data collected from individuals and groups. The quantitative data are drawn from Young Lives child questionnaire, which was administered to children aged 11 to 12 across 20 sentinel sites in Ethiopia during 2006. The qualitative data come from group activities with a sub-sample of these children in five communities and individual interviews that build on these activities (the data presented here focus on an urban, a remote rural, and a near rural community). Having established the importance of considering children's understandings of well-being and described some of the methods used, the paper addresses two questions. Firstly, how understandings of a good life and what is needed to achieve this differ between different types of community and social group. Secondly, how the relationship between well-being and education articulated in the group activities is expressed in the biographies of individual children, drawing on the examples of a twelve-year-old girl and boy from the remote rural site.

A separate 1-page Research Summary, which presents the main findings and policy implications of the Working Paper, is also attached.


Young Lives, Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, UK. ISBN: 978-1-904427-43-8, 36 pp. + research summary.

Published 1 January 2009