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Document Abstract
Published: 2011

Putting children at the centre of poverty debates

Understanding childhood poverty as a multidimensional concept
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This paper discusses the methodology of Young Lives - a 15-year study of childhood poverty in Ethiopia, India, Vietnam and Peru, following the lives of 3,000 children in each country.  The Young Lives programme is interested in children’s development within the context of economic constraint and disparities, and cumulative risk.

Children’s well-being and life chances are, however, interdependent with those of their parents and carers and the communities in which they reside, so Young Lives also considers household and community circumstances as central to child well-being. Additionally, the impacts of poverty have to be assessed in terms of other forms of risk to children, such as environmental hazards or ill-health that are often a cause of, or exacerbated by, material lack.

Young Lives conceptualises poverty as multidimensional in both its causes and its consequences. Access to resources (financial and other) is at the root of poverty, and there are a number of channels through which poverty may operate and create risks for children. The advantages of multidimensional approaches are that:

  • they help to demonstrate the interconnected nature of different aspects of deprivation
  • they analyse when income is (or is not) a good predictor of outcomes important for children; and
  • they can be used to summarise an aggregate of change over time in a more holistic and complete way than income measures alone
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P. Dornan; J. Boyden

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Geographic focus

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