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Family socio-economic status and young children's outcomes

Angela Donkin (Deputy Director, based at UCL Institute of Health Equity, UCL, London, UK)
Jillian Roberts (Research Fellow, based at UCL Institute of Health Equity, UCL, London, UK)
Alison Tedstone (Director Diet and Obesity, based at Public Health England, London, UK)
Michael Marmot (Professor, based at UCL Institute of Health Equity, UCL, London, UK)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 10 June 2014




This paper was written as part of a suite to inform the Big Lottery Better Start programme and as such has focused on the outcomes that are of interest to that programme. The authors have also focused on outcomes for younger children and the zero to three years age group where data are available. There is a social gradient such that the lower a family's socio-economic status (SES) the greater the likelihood that they have children who are obese, have impaired social and emotional skills, or have impaired language acquisition. These statistics are clear and undisputed. The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the reasons for the social gradient in these outcomes. The paper provides some suggestions for actions that might be taken to redress the inequalities. It follows broader work presented in, for example, the Marmot (2010) review, Fair Society Healthy Lives.


Rapid review of the literature building on the work of the Marmot (2010) review.


Poor SES is linked with increased stress and a higher likelihood of being unable to afford to live a healthy life. These factors can have a negative impact on children's outcomes. The paper presents some examples of what can be done.


This should be a useful paper for local authorities trying to reduce inequalities and improve outcomes.



Donkin, A., Roberts, J., Tedstone, A. and Marmot, M. (2014), "Family socio-economic status and young children's outcomes", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 83-95.



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