Exploring Well-Being among 22-Year-Old Youth in India

Renu Singh
Ranjana Kesarwani
Protap Mukherjee
Poverty and inequality
Well-being and aspirations
Adolescence and youth
Working paper
YL-WP187.pdf459.18 KB

Summary

Well-being is a multi-dimensional construct integrating physical, cognitive and socio-emotional dimensions of an individual. It refers to both objective measures of well-being as well as the subjective perceptions of an individual related to their circumstances. Concepts of poverty and well-being are closely intertwined. It has often been observed that economic development does not always translate into human development and well-being. Therefore, the measurement, tracking and promotion of well-being, especially the well-being of youth (aged 15-24) who constitute 19.1 per cent of India’s population, has grabbed the attention of policymakers.

This working paper presents a composite index that quantifies levels of well-being among 22-year-old young adults in India. The index is composed of 13 domains captured through 51 indicators. Applying the index to the Young Lives Older Cohort reveals that seven out of ten young adults have well-being that is below the mean. Analysis also reveals that psychosocial well-being in terms of inclusion, agency, self-esteem and stress are areas of concern, with many young adults reporting low scores for these indicators.  This validated well-being index for youth aged 22 could potentially be used as a powerful tool to influence and inform youth-based policies.

Tracing the consequences of child poverty - reflections from co-author Andrew Dawes on findings from 15 years of research

After several years in the making, ‘Tracing’, as we authors have come to call the volume, is published. What a journey it has been! Tracing draws on over 800 research papers, fact sheets, country reports and other outputs generated since the inception of the Young Lives study in 2001.

When asked by Jo Boyden to assist in this venture, I asked myself how on earth do we extract and synthesise Young Lives findings gathered over 16 years, to produce a concise account of the impact of poverty on children’s lives in four countries, that is at once scientifically rigorous, of interest to researchers in diverse fields, and perhaps most importantly, provides evidence that assists policy makers in their efforts to improve children’s lives?

Much of the answer lies in the deep knowledge of the project held by authors Jo Boyden and Paul Dornan who together with the Young Lives team, knew where to drill down to construct a powerful story of what matters in children’s lives both in relation to compounding disadvantage or supporting positive growth and development. 

Both the Young Lives International Advisory Board and the ‘Tracing’ Advisory Group, or TAG as we called it, challenged us to go beyond the ‘business as usual’ child poverty story and mine for nuggets that would shift the policy and intervention discourse. 

Taking this advice, we were able to demonstrate that while particular aspects of disadvantage are essential to address (e.g. under-nutrition; poor quality schooling), it is intersecting inequalities and disadvantages that are particularly powerful in undermining human development from before infancy through adolescence and youth. These include the poorest and rural children who are also members of marginalised groups (e.g. ethnic, caste or language), with less educated parents. Policies therefore need to pay particular attention to children who face these intersecting challenges.

A further example of the impact of intersecting disadvantage is evident from Latent Growth Modelling (LGM) an approach I discuss in an article here with Colin Tredoux. In Tracing, LGM traces the consequences of disadvantage in early and middle childhood and adolescence for the development of maths and language skills (vocabulary and reading comprehension). Modelling shows how children from poorer backgrounds with less educated caregivers either don't attend a preschool or attend one that is likely poor quality. That missed opportunity is associated with weaker quantitative and language skills by age five enduring through childhood.

A much-overlooked consequence of poverty is its potential impact on the psychological well-being of primary caregivers. LGM shows how the mental state of caregivers affected by poverty is related to child growth in the early years; those more negatively affected are likely to have children with stunted growth. That in turn compromises cognitive skills in both early and middle childhood. New challenges emerge in early adolescence for children who have to work to assist poor families - they have less time for schooling and studying. So a poor start compounded by other demands in later years contributes to poor skills development by adolescence. This in turn is likely to compromise education outcomes and ultimately the chance to enter further education, training and decent work. 

Patterns such as this are evident throughout the Young Lives data and are what we refer to as Developmental Cascades, a term drawn from the work of Ann Masten and Dante Cicchetti  As LGM shows, cascades occur both within and across stages of childhood development and build upon one another so that their effects accumulate to shape developmental outcomes over time.

For example, the study measured children’s height for their age at each Round. This enabled us to discover a very important nugget; evidence of both growth recovery and faltering during middle childhood. A proportion of children whose growth was stunted in early childhood showed normal growth in middle childhood, while some who had shown normal early growth, were stunted later. Thus early growth status is not necessarily fixed, indicating the potential for remedial intervention later in development. Particularly important is evidence that recovery is associated with cognitive gains in some children. 

Another example comes from the qualitative data analysed by Gina Crivello and Ginny Morrow. The TAG encouraged us to seek examples of children who were ‘bucking the trend’ of expected negative outcomes despite their disadvantages. What was it about these children and their circumstances that made the difference, and how could this information be used to provide more enabling environments for children placed at risk by poverty? Gina and Ginny’s work, discussed here, found that it was a combination of mutually reinforcing factors such as child characteristics and enabling environments in the family and beyond which together diverted children at risk into positive pathways. They also found that to maintain this positive Development Cascade, the children needed sustained support through young adulthood. 

In sum, Tracing has synthesized evidence from across the study and combined it with life course longitudinal analyses that permit examination of the cumulative influence of sources of risk, protection and opportunity from across childhood and through adolescence. This approach has allowed us to consider the implications of these findings for child-focused policy and programmes as low- and middle-income countries strive to overcome intergenerational poverty and inequality and meet the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals. We will share Tracing’s findings with policy makers and practitioners in government and non-government settings to help inform debates on how best to secure children’s well-being, development and rights. 

Tracing the consequences of child poverty is available digitally https://bit.ly/2TUOQRY and in print https://bit.ly/2U8vjwz.  For news of Young Lives you can follow us on Twitter @yloxford, Facebook, and check our website www.younglives.org.

 

Tracing the consequences of child poverty; Evidence from the Young Lives study in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam

Submitted by remote on Wed, 03/27/2019 - 18:07

A new book from Young Lives draws on over 15 years of research to explore how poverty shapes children’s wellbeing and development and how data can inform social policy and practice approaches to improving outcomes for poorer children.

Using life course analysis from the Young Lives study of 12,000 children growing up in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam over the past 15 years, the book draws on evidence on two cohorts of children, from 1 to 15 and from 8 to 22.

The Young Lives animation: Tracing the consequences of child poverty

We are delighted to share the Young Lives animation 'Tracing the consequences of child poverty'. The animation offers an overview of our longitudinal study of child poverty across four countries, over 15 years, with 12,000 children. 

It captures some of the key study findings and implications for policy and programming to explore how best to secure and sustain healthy development for children growing up in poverty around the world. Please find the animation below and on our YouTube channel, and engage in the virtual conversation on Twitter @yloxford with #YLPoverty and #tracingtheconsequences 

Young Lives child poverty conference captures 'the story of the first part of this century'

Submitted by remote on Mon, 08/13/2018 - 14:24

On Wednesday 27th June, more than 100 researchers, policymakers and practitioners joined the Young Lives team at the 'Young Lives, child poverty and lessons for the SDGs' conference held at the British Academy in London to mark the first 15 years of the study, to share and debate findings so far, and to help outline what governments and donors can do to address the disadvantages children face. 

Young Lives, child poverty and lessons for the SDGs

The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

This one-day conference is designed to create a vibrant and informative discussion among leaders from government, donor bodies and civil society who can share progress and advance collaboration on addressing challenges of child poverty, education, health and nutrition, especially across low- and middle-income countries.

The event combines keynote talks and panel discussions with a ‘World Café’ style interactive session that provides an exciting opportunity to share research and stimulate conversation with all participants. An outline of the day follows (and programme available here):

8:45-9:30          Registration

9:30-9:35          Welcome

Jo Boyden, Director, Young Lives

9:35-9:45          Opening remarks

Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor, Uni of Oxford

9:45-9:55          Introduction

Stefan Dercon, Professor of Economic Policy, Blavatnik School of Government

9:55-10:55        Panel: Child Development

Chair: Martin Woodhead, Associate Research Director, Young Lives

Speakers:

  • Rob Hughes, Senior Fellow, Early Child Development, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)
  • Andrew Dawes, Professor Emeritus, Cape Town University
  • Renu Singh, Country Director, Young Lives (India)

10:55-11:20      Break

11:20-12:20      Panel: Child Protection

Chair: Santiago Cueto, Country Director, Young Lives (Peru)

Speakers:

  • Tanya Barron, CEO, Plan International
  • Alula Pankhurst, Country Director, Young Lives (Ethiopia)
  • Cornelius Williams, Associate Director & Global Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF

12:20-12:30      Round-up remarks, and introduction to interactive discussions

12:30-13:20     Lunch

13:20-15:05      World Café

15:05-15:30      Break

15:30-15:40      Reflections from the World Café

Gordon Alexander, Young Lives International Advisory Board

15:40-16:00      Keynote

AK Shiva Kumar, Co-Chair, Know Violence in Childhood

16:00-16:10      Special Address

Harriett Baldwin, Minister of State, Department for International Development

16:10-17:20     Panel: Child Poverty

Chair: Helen Pearson, Chief Magazine Editor, Nature

Speakers:

  • Jo Boyden, Director, Young Lives
  • Rachel Glennerster, Chief Economist, Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Richard Morgan, Director, Child Poverty Global Theme, Save the Children

 17:20-17:30     Closing Remarks 

Donald Bundy, Professor of Epidemiology and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

17:30-18:30      Drinks reception 

 

PANEL DISCUSSIONS

1: Child Development – How can we provide food for life and effective education for all?

This discussion will draw together research and insight on nutrition, health and education – the three founding factors of children’s growth and cognitive development. Panellists will discuss such questions as:

  • How do we address the problems of under-nutrition and over-nutrition within the same contexts?
  • What is the association between child nutrition and growth on the one hand, and school performance and outcomes on the other?
  • How do schools contribute to children’s development and wellbeing, and how effective are they at supporting the most disadvantaged?
2: Child Protection – How do we best support young people in situations of adversity?

Combining the themes of work, violence and marriage, this discussion tackles the complex challenges involved in promoting the rights and well-being of all children to ensure no child is left behind. Questions for the panellists (including Tanya Barron, CEO of Plan International UK) will include:

  • How can we better understand the lived experiences of young people that motivate their daily decision-making as individuals, family members, siblings and in relation to their wider environment?
  • Are we making the right investments in policies and programmes to address gender disparities improve employment opportunities, promote healthy lives, and/or prevent exploitation and violence?
  • What does the evidence say about these issues?
3: Child Poverty – Tracing the consequences and changing the outcomes

The final panel discussion of the day will provide the big picture of research, policy, advocacy and action on childhood poverty. During the first two decades of the 21st century, children’s circumstances have improved across the countries where Young Lives research has taken place, but the poorest, rural children and children in minority groups are much more likely to experience the worst outcomes. In some contexts, social and economic disparities are becoming increasingly entrenched. Helen Pearson, Chief Editor of Nature and author will chair this session, based around the central question for panellists:

  • How can the research, policy and advocacy worlds come together to help break cycles of poverty and inequality and improve lives across generations?

WORLD CAFE

The World Café session format provides a dynamic and interactive experience that is designed to encourage all participants to engage in collaborative dialogue and contribute constructive possibilities for action on addressing childhood poverty.

We will hold several simultaneous discussion groups, which participants can rotate around during the course of this two-hour session. At least two experts will help prompt discussions in each group (or “meeting station”) by presenting their research and insights on the topic, and inviting feedback and comment from other participants. Group leaders will then share some of the key insights from discussions when we reconvene everyone together in the afternoon.

Sessions are based on the following topics:

  • Education
  • Nutrition
  • Gender and adolescence
  • Labour market transitions
  • Role of social protection in child development
  • Child protection (children's experiences of violence and of work)

The event will close with a drinks reception where attendees will be able to engage with interactive data visualisations, explore a themed photo exhibition, and take the opportunity to network and celebrate the work of Young Lives to date.

 

Beyond Monetary Poverty Analysis: The Dynamics of Multidimensional Child Poverty in Developing Countries old

Poverty and inequality
Journal Article

This article investigates transitions in monetary and multidimensional poverty using the 2006 and 2009 Young Lives surveys in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. While the headcount ratio in both measures of poverty decreases over time, author Hoolda Kim finds that there is only a small overlap between the groups in monetary and multidimensional poverty in either or both waves. Kim also notes that children remaining in monetary poverty are more likely to stay in multidimensional poverty. However, children escaping from monetary poverty do not always exit from multidimensional poverty. The results suggest the need to go beyond traditional monetary poverty indicators to understand and monitor poverty dynamics among children.

Access the article here.

Poverty and Intergenerational Change: Preliminary Findings from the Round 5 Survey in India

Poverty and inequality
Trajectories
Country report

Round 5 Longitudinal Poverty and Intergenerational Change Fact Sheet

This fact sheet presents findings from the fifth round of the Young Lives survey of children in United Andhra Pradesh in 2016. Young Lives is a longitudinal study on childhood poverty that has followed two cohorts of children born seven years apart. It has been collecting household and child-level survey data from 3,000 households in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana since 2002. This fact sheet presents preliminary findings on changes that have taken place in household poverty in urban and rural locations as well as in different caste groups. The analysis shows a definite increase in wealth – as measured by a composite index of consumer durables, access to services, and housing conditions – of the Younger Cohort households in 2016 compared to 2002 (Round 1 survey), with the highest percentage change in wealth over that period among Scheduled Tribes, households where mothers had no formal education, and households in rural locations. However, inequalities remain.

Key Findings:

  • Overall there is an increase in average wealth over time with the highest percentage change between Rounds 1 and 5 for Scheduled Tribes households.
  • While differences in household wealth based on location and caste have reduced over time, substantial inequalities persist between Other Castes on the one hand and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on the other.
  • The highest percentage change in access to services is seen among Scheduled Tribes, in rural households, and in households where mothers had no formal education.
  • The largest change is seen in the average access to consumer durables, particularly among Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, households from rural areas, and where mothers had no formal education.
  • By 2016, access to safe drinking water and electricity is near universal across all locations.
  • Only half of households have access to sanitation. Although there have been improvements since 2002, access to sanitation facilities remains at 30% among Scheduled Tribes compared to 55% for the other three caste groups, and 31% in rural areas compared to 95% in urban areas.
  • More households report vulnerability to economic shocks in 2016 than in 2006.