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Children's Chances

Children's Chances: How Countries Can Move from Surviving to Thriving

Jody Heymann
with Kristen McNeill
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Children's Chances
    Book Description:

    Children’s Chances urges a shift from focusing on survival to targeting children’s full and healthy development. Drawing on comparative data on policies in 190 countries designed to combat poverty, discrimination, child labor, illiteracy, and child marriage, Heymann and McNeill tell what works to ensure equal opportunities for all children.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06797-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps and Tables
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Chapter 1 Within Our Reach
    (pp. 1-15)

    If we were to care as much about the world’s children as we care about our own, we would measure success not only by child mortality rates, primary-school enrollment, and the prevalence of hazardous child labor, but also by success in school, access to advanced education, comprehensive measures of physical health and development, and social and emotional well-being. For millions of the world’s children, we are failing at the basics, well before children have a chance at anything close to opportunity. Too many children are dying before their fifth birthday, do not have enough to eat, are living without access...

  6. Chapter 2 Beyond Basic Education
    (pp. 16-57)

    The question is, can we do enough for children like Sofia? Can we ensure that all children are enrolled in school irrespective of family income? Can we provide a high-enough quality of education to ensure that all children learn even if their parents cannot teach them academic material?

    Although significant progress has been made in getting children enrolled in school over the past decade, the shortfall remains staggering. Seventy-two million primary-school-age children around the world are not in school; 31 million of these children are unlikely ever to enroll.³ Beyond basic education, the gaps are even greater, in spite of...

  7. Chapter 3 A Chance at Childhood
    (pp. 58-97)

    Concern about child labor is not new. As early as 1860, the International Workers’ Congress called for an international campaign against child labor. When the International Labour Organization (ILO) was established in 1919, establishing conventions on the minimum working age for various sectors was among its first activities. Interest in and action on the issue of child labor continued throughout the twentieth century; child labor was largely articulated as a violation of children’s rights and thus a target for total elimination. However, child labor remained extremely prevalent, and beginning in the 1990s, an explosion of cross-border advocacy and action made...

  8. Chapter 4 Beyond Survival to Health
    (pp. 98-129)

    Like Iris, the lives of millions of children are shaped by whether their families have adequate access to public health services and medical care. Each year, 4 million children do not live even 1 month;² they most commonly die as a result of preterm birth, asphyxia, and infection, including pneumonia, diarrhea, tetanus, and sepsis.³ Three-quarters of these infants die within a week after birth.⁴ If all children under the age of 5 are considered, the number of deaths more than doubles. Together, over 40 percent of child deaths are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria;⁵ many of these deaths could...

  9. Chapter 5 Parents and Children
    (pp. 130-161)

    This chapter examines the role of parental care for children and the policies that make this care possible.

    Throughout history and around the world, it has rarely been the case that children were raised in homes with one parent as a full-time caregiver. Fathers and mothers have long engaged in economically productive labor, whether it be work on a farm, in home production, or for an employer. That the majority of parents do paid work in addition to the work of childrearing is not new. What have changed in important ways are the nature and location of parents’ paid work....

  10. Chapter 6 Meeting Basic Needs
    (pp. 162-192)

    This book is fundamentally about ensuring that all children have an opportunity to develop to their fullest potential, with aspirations for themselves and the chance to achieve them, not just about meeting their most basic daily needs. But we cannot speak about equal life chances for all children without knowing what countries are doing when it comes to the basics.

    The scale of the problem of poverty is staggering. In low- and middle-income countries, 1 in 4 people, or 1.4 billion, live on less than $1.25 per day, the World Bank’s measure of extreme poverty. Nearly half the population of...

  11. Chapter 7 Equity and Discrimination
    (pp. 193-222)

    The premise of this book is that equal chances for children matter. The importance of equal rights and opportunities for all children has achieved nearly universal international consensus—the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a powerful statement of these rights, has been ratified by 190 UN member states.⁵

    Even beyond their inherent value, there are compelling reasons to care about equity and freedom from discrimination. The experience of unequal chances has a powerful impact on children’s outcomes, from education and health in childhood to work and civic engagement in adulthood.

    Discrimination can affect every aspect of a...

  12. Chapter 8 Meeting Special Needs
    (pp. 223-251)

    The experiences of Hang, Mason, and Andrea demonstrate the extent to which a child’s environment and services received can shape their experience of disability. Children with disabilities face disadvantages in childhood in areas ranging from education to health that can limit their life chances. However, many of these barriers are as much a result of the social context in which disabled children and adults live as of the impairments themselves.

    There are limitations inherent in certain impairments. However, the extent to which an impairment is truly disabling is fundamentally shaped by the context in which individuals find themselves. An inability...

  13. Chapter 9 Changing Children’s Chances
    (pp. 252-270)

    Isabella’s life, take 1: Isabella lived in a small house with her parents and her two younger siblings. Her father cleaned city streets at night, and her mother worked in a textile factory; neither had completed more than a basic education. At the age of 14, Isabella was finally completing primary school. While she enjoyed learning and liked going to school to see her friends, her packed classroom was frequently too loud for her to concentrate, and she didn’t like her teacher; she couldn’t answer many of the questions that Isabella asked about math and geography. Like most teachers in...

  14. Appendix 1: The World Policy Analysis Centre
    (pp. 271-300)
  15. Appendix 2: Interview Data
    (pp. 301-304)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 305-376)
  17. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 377-382)
    JH and KM
  18. Index
    (pp. 383-394)