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Children’s Well-being in UK, Sweden and Spain:

The Role of Inequality and Materialism

Children’s Well-being in UK, Sweden and Spain:

UNICEF UK report examines children’s well-being in UK, Sweden and Spain

Status technology and clothing brands play a significant role in creating or reinforcing social divisions amongst children between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, new research by Ipsos MORI for UNICEF UK has shown.

The research paints a complex picture of the relationship between well-being, materialism and inequality across Spain, Sweden and the UK. Children want time with their parents, good relationships with their friends and lots of stimulating things to do, according to the report’s findings.

In the UK, however, the research shows parents struggling to find time to be with their children or to help them participate in sporting and creative activities and as a substitute feeling forced to purchase consumer goods.

Consumer goods play a multi-faceted role in children’s lives – sometimes positive and sometimes negative – and there is no doubt that status technology and clothing brands do play their part in generating or highlighting social divisions amongst children.

Whilst researchers witnessed all of these dynamics in Spain and Sweden, the pressure to consume appears much less and the resilience much greater than in the UK.

Technical note

UNICEF’s Report Card 7 put the UK at the bottom of the child well-being league table, including on three key well-being measures. UNICEF UK commissioned Ipsos MORI and Dr. Agnes Nairn to undertake this piece of qualitative, ethnographic research to look behind the statistics to understand why this may be the case and what happens in Spain and Sweden, countries where child well-being, according to Report Card 7, is higher.

Ipsos MORI spoke to children and parents from three countries – the UK, Spain and Sweden.

The children we spoke to were aged from 8 to 12. The families we spoke to had children of all ages, from babies, to older teenagers.

The research took the form of filmed ethnographic family interviews with 24 families in the 3 countries, grounding the research in the everyday life of family interactions. This generated 100 hours of footage, 300 pages of transcripts, and 50 pages of field-notes which was analysed by nine researchers.

  • For more information, contact Chloe Forbes on 020 7347 3172.
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