• University of York

Improving Children's Lives: Reducing Child Poverty and Inequality Around the World

Why do children get a better start to life in some countries than in others? What can we learn from the best performing countries?

3,045 enrolled on this course

Colourful swings in a children's playground
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Why do some countries do better than others in giving their children a good start to life? Can governments improve children’s lives by learning from the best performing countries?

This free online course explores these questions using a combination of articles, videos, animations, articles, interactive data visualisations, discussions, and research “bites”.

We will introduce you to key findings from the world-leading research into child well-being conducted at the University of York and findings from major child well-being studies conducted by international organisations such as Unicef. As well as exploring children’s own perceptions of their well-being, we will explore variations in the levels of child poverty, material deprivation and in key health outcomes. In so doing we will explore both inequalities in child well-being and the impacts of inequality on child well-being.

This course will appeal to students and participants from around the globe, particularly those from within the OECD countries.

By the end of the course, you will:

  • be familiar with trends in child well-being across rich countries
  • be aware of major international resources for the analysis of children’s lives
  • understand key debates about the measurement and conceptualisation of child well-being
  • be aware of major policy debates relating to children’s lives

Learn with world-leading researchers on child well-being

The course has been developed by the University of York’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work, which is ranked 3rd in the UK and 25th in the world for Social Policy research. The course features contributions from some of the most prominent scholars in the field, including Professor Kate Pickett (author of best-selling book The Spirit Level) and Professor Jonathan Bradshaw (author of the first Unicef ‘Report Card’ to compare child well-being outcomes in rich countries).

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Skip to 0 minutes and 18 seconds Few people would disagree that every child deserves a good start to life, but what does that actually mean? A good education? A stable family income? A safe home? A place to play, and time with friends and family? There are no easy answers to the question of what constitutes a good childhood - in this course, we’ll explore children’s lives around the world and we ask what lessons might be learned from the countries where children seem to fare best.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds Some would argue that a fair society is impossible if some children don’t receive a fair start to life and as the newspaper headlines you have just seen show, some countries do much better than others in ensuring that key policy interventions improve children’s lives. Over the four weeks of this course, we’ll debate the meaning of a good childhood and we’ll explore the many competing ways in which it can be measured. We’ll also look at what children have to say about their own lives. We’ll pay particular attention to how inequalities impact on children’s lives, focusing on income, health and children’s own subjective understandings of their well-being.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds For analyis of differences in child well-being across rich countries, we will explore the implications of inequalities for child well-being, and will ask what governments might do to improve children’s lives. The course draws on the University of York’s world-leading expertise in social policy and our particular strengths in researching child poverty and child well-being. Join us, in exploring some of the debates around child well-being, and considering what lessons we can learn from around the world.

What topics will you cover?

  • Childhood and wellbeing
  • Income
  • Subjective wellbeing
  • Health and behaviours

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain trends in child well-being outcomes across rich countries
  • Describe the major international resources for the analysis of child well-being
  • Engage with key debates about the measurement and conceptualisation of child well-being
  • Reflect upon major policy debates relating to child well-being.

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at those with a good secondary education and an interest in the social sciences. The level is undergraduate level 1, so equivalent to the first year of a degree course. You do not need any prior knowledge of the field, but a keen interest in how child well-being is researched and understood internationally is essential.

Who will you learn with?

Aniela Wenham is a lecturer in Social Policy at the University of York. Her teaching and research interest include youth transitions, youth policy and qualitative longitudinal methods.

John Hudson is Professor of Social Policy at the University of York. He is co-author of 'The Short Guide to Social Policy' (2015) and of the recent Unicef Report Card 'Fairness for Children' (2016).

Who developed the course?

University of York

The University of York combines the pursuit of academic excellence with a culture of inclusion, which encourages everyone – from a variety of backgrounds – to achieve their best.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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