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Child development, the life course, and social exclusion: Are the frameworks used in the UK relevant for developing countries?

John Hobcraft


This paper brings together three themes that have become increasingly important in both research and policy on inequality and disadvantage in the UK: child development, the life course, and social exclusion. It is suggested that there are several aspects of the social exclusion approach that are valuable in both the UK and developing country contexts: multidimensionality; a dynamic, longitudinal perspective requiring a focus on both inter- and intra-generational processes; a concern with the interplay of agency and structure; an emphasis on human development through the life-course; and an emphasis on child development. After a review of the various approaches to social exclusion, with particular attention to the research and policy environments in the UK, the paper presents a summary of research on the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage drawing especially from work on the UK birth cohorts of 1958 and 1970. A key finding from this research is that many childhood disadvantages have a ‘pervasive’ influence on a wide range of adult disadvantages. The paper concludes with a brief exploration of the relevance for such an approach in developing countries. While not generally couched in social exclusion terms, the major shifts in UN development thinking over the past decade or so, as well as much in research on chronic poverty do resonate with the social exclusion approach as seen in the UK.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Working Paper


intergenerational transmission of poverty social exclusion lifecycle childhood poverty UK south-north

ISBN: 1-904049-71-0


Child development, the life course, and social exclusion PDF 102.6 KB

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