Research at The University of Nottingham and The University of York, published in the British Medical Journal, has found that reducing income inequality may be more likely than economic growth to improve the wellbeing of children in rich countries. They examined whether measures of child wellbeing were most closely related to average income or to the level of inequality across a set of 23 rich countries, and also among the 50 states of the USA and District of Columbia.
They found that UNICEF’s index of child wellbeing was unrelated to average income but was strongly related to the size of the income differences between rich and poor within each country. Similar results were found among the 50 states of the US.
The press release concludes: ‘In an accompanying BMJ editorial, other researchers wrote: “We know enough to say that inequalities affect child wellbeing and that relative poverty kills as effectively as any disease.” They believe that we need to get better at identifying the programmes that work and much better at getting governments to invest in the wellbeing of children.’
(This is a shortened version of the University of Nottingham press release, which can be found here).