How poverty affects children's development and how policy can help

15 Apr 2019 - 11:15
The relevance of the Young Lives study findings for South Africa - discussions by Prof. Colin Theroux (left), Emeritus Prof. Andy Dawes (middle), and Emeritus Prof. Viviene Taylor (right).


Andrew Dawes and Colin Tredoux are UCT academics who have been associated with the Young Lives study in the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford for some years. Young Lives was initiated by the UK’s Department of International Development as a unique inquiry into the lives of children growing up in the first decades of the 21st century.

The main findings and policy recommendations were recently published in book form by Policy Press in the UK: 

Tracing the Consequences of Child Poverty: Evidence from the Young Lives study in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam by Jo Boyden, Andrew Dawes, Paul Dornan and Colin Tredoux.

Tracing the Consequences summarises the key findings of the Young Lives study and discusses their implications for child-focused policy and programmes across low- and middle-income countries as they strive to meet the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals.

While South Africa was not one of the study countries, the findings are highly relevant to this country as well as to others in the southern Africa region.

The purpose of the study was to create a global public good, to shed light on the causes and consequences of the poverty experienced by many millions of children, and to inform strategies to improve life chances. Young Lives is a unique, comparative, mixed-methods longitudinal cohort study of approximately 12 000 boys and girls growing up in four low- and middle-income countries since the start of the millennium. Detailed information on a wide range of topics has been collected – including health, nutrition, education, time use and psycho-social well-being – as well as from schools attended by some of the children. With two cohorts in each of the four countries born seven years apart, the study is able to show cross-country variations and similarities in the manner in which socio-economic, familial and institutional forces shape children’s development in rapidly changing societies.

The seminar presentation is available online, including two links to short videos about the Young Lives study.

The book is available Open Access under a CC-BY-NC licence.