Children's well-being in UK, Sweden and Spain: The role of inequality and materialism

Agnes Nairn
Ipsos Mori

Executive Summary

UNICEF's Report Card 7 put the UK at the bottom of the child well-being league table, including on three key wellbeing measures. UNICEF UK commissioned Ipsos MORI and Dr. Agnes Nairn to undertake this piece of qualitative research that digs behind the statistics to understand why this may be the case and what happens in Spain and Sweden, countries where child well-being is higher. This research paid particular attention to the role of materialism and inequality in children's well-being, as there is a growing consensus in the literature that these three concepts are inextricably linked in a number of ways. Materialism is thought to be a cause, as well as an effect of negative wellbeing; countries that have higher levels of inequality are known to score lower on a number of wellbeing indicators, and materialism has consistently been shown to be higher among the more deprived. Overall, however, there is relatively little qualitative research exploring how children themselves experience the interplay between materialism, inequality and their own subjective well-being. It is specifically this gap which this research aims to fill.