Children's material living standards in rich countries

Gill Main, Kirsten Besemer

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Children’s material living conditions refer to the physical resources children have access to. This can be in terms of physical possessions such as adequate clothing and food or financial or social resources enabling participation such as enough money to gain an adequate education and to participate in social activities. Lacking adequate physical resources, whether in terms of resources needed for survival or for meeting social norms in the society in which children live, is associated with a range of negative outcomes. Material deprivation is increasingly acknowledged as important in academic and policy fields as a direct measure of poverty for both adults and children. Studies of different measures of poverty reveal that income poverty and material deprivation are overlapping but not identical. Studying child material deprivation can therefore provide a fuller picture of child poverty than studying income poverty alone. Historically, the development of child-specific indicators of material living conditions has grown out of a household-focused and adult-derived interest in the topic. However, developments in the study of childhood and in policies relating to children have increasingly led to more child-focused measures. Two important issues are how to investigate the material living conditions of children in a way that acknowledges them as individuals, while reflecting their position as deeply entwined with families, and how to incorporate concerns with both child well-being and well-becoming, particularly at times when the two may conflict. The aim of this chapter is to provide an introduction to the concept of children’s material conditions, draw attention to the effects of material deprivation, and highlight some key debates in the field. We will also provide some ideas for future directions at the end of the chapter.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHandbook of Child Well-Being
    Subtitle of host publicationTheories, Methods and Policies in Global Perspective
    EditorsAsher Ben-Arieh, Ferran Casas, Ivar Frønes, Jill E Korbin
    Number of pages37
    ISBN (Electronic)978-90-481-9063-8
    ISBN (Print)978-90-481-9062-1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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