Poorer children are still ‘born to fail’, new report suggests

Young girl with neutral expressionThe number of children growing up in relative poverty in this country has almost doubled in the last five decades, according to a new report using data from the National Child Development Study (NCDS). 

The National Children’s Bureau report, Greater Expectations: Raising expectations for our children, compares data on different aspects of children’s lives in the UK today with the experiences of 11 year olds in 1969, which were captured in Born to Fail, a powerful NCDS study published in 1973.

Greater Expectations reports that 3.5 million children are growing up in relative poverty today, compared to 2 million in 1969. It also shows how poverty not only blights their childhood but affects their life chances.

Key findings include:

  • Children living in the most deprived areas are much less likely than those in affluent areas to have access to green space and places to play.
  • Children from poorer backgrounds continue to be more likely than better off children to suffer from ill health. Furthermore, boys living in deprived areas are three times more likely to be obese than boys growing up in affluent areas, and girls are twice as likely.
  • Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are much more likely to suffer an accidental injury in the home.
  • A child from a disadvantaged background is still far less likely to do well in their GCSEs at age 16 than a child from the most well off backgrounds.

The new report highlights the enduring significance of the NCDS findings published in Born to Fail four decades ago, and emphasises the study’s importance as a benchmark for understanding children’s lives today.