Child poverty and child health in international perspective
In the 20 years between the end of the 1970s and the 1990s relative child poverty in the United Kingdom increased more than threefold. Child poverty increased more in the UK than any other rich country for which there is comparable data. There is survey and administrative evidence that the child poverty rate has at last begun to fall. However, throughout the years when it increased, or stayed at internationally very high levels, there were very few attempts to monitor the impact of poverty on child well-being. As part of the ESRC Children 5-16 project Bradshaw (2001a) undertook a review of the impact of child poverty on the physical and mental health of children, and their behavioural, cognitive and emotional well-being. With the support of Save the Children (UK) we have begun to produce a biennial report on the well-being of children in the UK (Bradshaw, 2002). As part of this work we have come to the conclusion that there are problems with the kind of child health indicators that have been used traditionally to make comparisons between nations or within nations over time. This chapter reviews the evidence leading to this conclusion and argues that there is a need to develop new ways of measuring child health in industrial countries – in ways that are more sensitive to picking up the impact of poverty.