Our themes

Our themes

Three core conceptual narratives emerging from our research reflect the breadth of children’s experiences and the way different aspects of their lives are interlinked and influence each other. 

The life-course: what shapes children's development

Poverty and associated risks can have profound implications for children that last throughout their lives and affect future generations. Our life-course perspective highlights what matters most at which age points, how far influences in early childhood are critical for long-term outcomes, the ways they may have cumulative effects as children grow up, as well as the scope for intervention at various points.

What inequality means for children

Poverty, deprivation and risk are concentrated in particular social and economic groups or localities, with dramatic disparities in child development outcomes. This stream of our work explores the extent of inequalities between groups of children and how these inequalities change and accumulate over time, affecting children’s development and, through this, the opportunities open to them.

Changing children’s lives: new risks and opportunities

Children’s development and well-being are significantly influenced by their family and community environment, with economic and social change, including the rise of formal education, having profound implications for children. Our findings highlight the tensions between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ attitudes and practices affecting children and young people and show how children's lives are changing at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

We also conduct more specific, sector-aligned research on core topics that matter for children at different age points – particularly in relation to their nutrition and health, education and learning, and gender and adolescence.


The life-course Early childhood
Transitions and life-events
Adolescence and young people
Inequality Poverty, livelihoods and shocks
Social protection
Communities and access to services
Changing children's lives Child protection
Children's work and time-use
Well-being and aspirations
Mobility and migration
Education Low-fee private schooling
School effectiveness
Nutrition and health Malnutrition
Cognitive development
Illness and injuries
Gender and adolescence Early marriage and FGM

New publications

We need to end child poverty in order to break the cycle of poverty.