In This Article Young Lives

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data Sources

Childhood Studies Young Lives
by
Jo Boyden, Caroline Knowles, Virginia Morrow, Grace Spencer
  • LAST REVIEWED: 17 November 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 August 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0119

Introduction

Young Lives is a longitudinal study of childhood poverty following the lives of twelve thousand children in four countries—Ethiopia, India (in the state of Andhra Pradesh), Peru, and Vietnam—over fifteen years. Globally, young people under the age of eighteen are the largest age group affected by poverty, which has severe and lifelong consequences for children, households, communities, and countries. Young Lives follows two groups of children in each country: two thousand children who were born in 2001–2002; and one thousand children who were born in 1994–1995. The children are divided into quintiles (groups of equal size) according to their per capita household expenditure. Through a large-scale household survey of all the children and their primary caregivers, combined with qualitative research with a “nested” sample, Young Lives collects a wealth of information not only about children’s material and social circumstances, but also about their aspirations and experiences, contextualized in the environmental and social realities of their communities. Young Lives covers all ages from early infancy into young adulthood, and this enables an examination of how inequality affects children’s trajectories as they grow up during a period of rapid social, economic, and cultural change. Young Lives draws together researchers in the field of childhood poverty across a range of disciplines, including anthropology, economics, education, health and nutrition, psychology, social policy, and sociology. The analysis and policy engagement work of Young Lives is clustered around three themes that are central to the lives of children and young people: Dynamics of Childhood Poverty; Children’s Experiences of Poverty; and Learning, Time-Use, and Life Transitions. In addition, Young Lives makes an important contribution to research Methods. Making repeated, structured observations about the same group over time allows the removal of time-invariant individual differences, as well as the identification of short- and long-term patterns of change. Young Lives uses a combination of survey methods and qualitative research to build up a broad-based understanding of childhood and to provide policymakers with information about the dynamics of childhood poverty in developing countries.

General Overviews

A concise description of Young Lives is provided by Barnett, et al. 2012, which highlights the relevance for public health and epidemiology. The conceptual framework used by Young Lives can be found in Dornan and Boyden 2011, and general overviews are provided in Boyden and Bourdillon 2012 and Boyden, et al. 2012. Preliminary findings from the third round of survey data for each country are presented in a series of reports: Cueto, et al. 2011 (Peru); Le, et al. 2011 (Vietnam); Galab, et al. 2011 (India); and Woldehanna, et al. 2011 (Ethiopia). A detailed analysis of findings from Young Lives can be found in the edited volume Bourdillon and Boyden 2014; for a succinct discussion of key findings from Young Lives written in a non-specialist language, see Pells and Woodhead 2014. Boyden, et al. 2014 provides a comprehensive review of literature on child development in low- and middle-income countries and demonstrates the ways in which different developmental domains, including previously neglected dimensions such as self-efficacy, self-esteem, and aspirations, relate to each other.

  • Barnett, Inka, Proochista Ariana, Stavros Petrou, et al. “Cohort Profile: The Young Lives Study.” International Journal of Epidemiology (2012).

    DOI: 10.1093/ije/dys082E-mail Citation »

    This paper describes the Young Lives study and indicates the topics covered: nutrition, health and well-being, cognitive and physical development, health behaviors and education, as well as the social, demographic and economic status of the household, focusing particularly on health-related aspects of child well-being. Published online 21 May 2012, full text available online by subscription.

  • Bourdillon, Michael, and Jo Boyden, eds. Growing Up in Poverty: Findings from Young Lives. Palgrave Studies on Children and Development. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

    E-mail Citation »

    This edited collection presents major findings from Young Lives, focusing on two areas: the challenges and risks posed by poverty for children’s development and the opportunities and pitfalls associated with expanding educational systems in the developing world. The chapters in the first part of the book look at the impact of locality, mother’s psychosocial skills, and gender on children’s development; chapters in the second part of the book explore the impact of schooling on children’s cognitive outcomes, on their subjective well-being, and on changing patterns of children’s time use.

  • Boyden, Jo, and Michael Bourdillon, eds. Childhood Poverty: Multidisciplinary Approaches. Palgrave Studies in Children and Development. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

    E-mail Citation »

    Edited collection reflecting on the first two rounds of Young Lives data, with additional chapters from Tanzania and South Africa. The authors explore the dynamics of childhood poverty, learning, children’s time use, and life transitions, focusing on children’s daily lives, their families, and their communities.

  • Boyden, Jo, Stefan Dercon, and Abhijeet Singh. “Child Development in a Changing World: Risks and Opportunities.” World Bank Research Observer (2014).

    DOI: 10.1093/wbro/lku009E-mail Citation »

    This review provides an overview of literature coming from economics and a number of social science disciplines on the impact of risk exposure on child development in low- and middle-income countries. By drawing particular attention to previously under-researched dimensions, such as self-efficacy, self-esteem, and aspirations, this review stresses the interrelatedness between children’s developmental domains and argues that there is a strong relationship between risks in early childhood and later outcomes. Published online 24 September 2014; available by subscription.

  • Boyden, Jo, Abby Hardgrove, and Caroline Knowles. “Continuity and Change in Poor Children’s Lives: Evidence from Young Lives.” In Global Child Poverty and Well-Being: Measurement, Concepts, Policy and Action. Edited by Alberto Minujin and Shailen Nandy, 475–506. Bristol, UK: Policy Press, 2012.

    DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847424822.001.0001E-mail Citation »

    Based on Young Lives findings on trends in child welfare, and on how poverty is transmitted across generations, this chapter explores how economic growth may accentuate inequalities, and how the experience of deprivation affects children profoundly. However, social policies provide some protection against economic shocks.

  • Cueto, Santiago, Javier Escobal, Mary Penny, and Patricia Ames. Tracking Disparities: Who Gets Left Behind? Initial Findings from Peru. Young Lives Round 3 Survey Report. Oxford: Young Lives, 2011.

    E-mail Citation »

    This report presents initial findings from the third round of data collection by Young Lives in Peru, carried out from late 2009 to early 2010. It gives an outline of key indicators of childhood poverty and changes that have taken place between earlier rounds of data collection, in 2002 and 2006, and this third round.

  • Dornan, Paul, and Jo Boyden. Putting Children at the Centre of Poverty Debates. Young Lives Policy Brief 12. Oxford: Young Lives, 2011.

    E-mail Citation »

    This policy brief provides details of the Young Lives conceptual framework, and develops a model that describes child-level, household, and societal channels through which poverty affects children.

  • Galab, S., S. Vijay Kumar, P. Prudhvikar Reddy, Renu Singh, and Uma Vennam. The Impact of Growth on Childhood Poverty in Andhra Pradesh: Initial Findings from India. Young Lives Round 3 Survey Report. Oxford: Young Lives, 2011.

    E-mail Citation »

    This report presents initial findings from the third round of data collection by Young Lives in Andhra Pradesh, India, carried out from late 2009 to early 2010. It gives an outline of key indicators of childhood poverty and changes that have taken place between earlier rounds of data collection, in 2002 and 2006, and this third round.

  • Le, Duc Thuc, Thang Nguyen, Van Tien Nguyen, Hang Mai Thuy, and Thuy Vu Thi Thu. How Do Children Fare in the New Millennium? Initial Findings from Vietnam. Young Lives Round 3 Survey Report. Oxford: Young Lives, 2011.

    E-mail Citation »

    This report presents initial findings from the third round of data collection by Young Lives in Vietnam, carried out from late 2009 to early 2010. It gives an outline of key indicators of childhood poverty and changes that have taken place between earlier rounds of data collection, in 2002 and 2006, and this third round.

  • Pells, Kirrily, and Martin Woodhead. Changing Children’s Lives: Risks and Opportunities. Young Lives Policy Paper. Oxford: Young Lives, 2014.

    E-mail Citation »

    Written in a non-specialist language and organized around six concise messages, the paper presents an excellent introduction to the findings from Young Lives which will be of particular interest to policymakers working on childhood-related issues and to scholars who want to get an overview of Young Lives research.

  • Woldehanna, Tassew, Retta Gudisa, Yisak Tafere, and Alula Pankhurst. Understanding Changes in the Lives of Poor Children: Initial Findings from Ethiopia. Young Lives Round 3 Survey Report. Oxford: Young Lives, 2011.

    E-mail Citation »

    This report presents initial findings from the third round of data collection by Young Lives in Ethiopia, carried out from late 2009 to early 2010. It gives an outline of key indicators of childhood poverty and changes that have taken place between earlier rounds of data collection, in 2002 and 2006, and this third round.

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