Month: August 2016

Guest blog: What Makes a Good Childhood?

Rachel Beardsmore,Senior Research Officer, Wellbeing; Children and Young People at  Office for National Statistics shares insights from the 5th annual Good Childhood report:     Today sees the publication of The Children’s Society’s 5th annual Good Childhood Report. The report highlights some of the key differences in well-being between boys and girls, including for overall life satisfaction, how happy they are with their appearance and mental health. The Office for National Statistics publishes 31 measures of children’s wellbeing across 7 areas of life and our analysis of these measures supports the findings published in the Good Childhood Report. Using data from the Understanding Society survey, we found that in 2013-14, girls aged between 10 and 15 were more than twice as likely to be unhappy with their appearance as boys of the same age. Girls in their early teens are more likely than younger girls to say they are unhappy with their appearance; over 1 in 4 (26%) girls aged 13-15 said they were unhappy with their appearance, compared with 1 in 10 (11%) girls aged 10-12. The Good Childhood Report shows that between 2009 and 2013-14 things have been getting worse for girls, while for boys there has been no change. We found that teenage boys are much less likely to say they are unhappy with their appearance with just 1 in 14 (7%) reporting being unhappy. Social...

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Guest blog and report: The Implications of Wellbeing Research on Government Policy

  The Hertford Business & Economics Society, an undergraduate group at the University of Oxford, recently completed a research project looking at wellbeing and government policy. The final report was presented to the Cabinet Office in December 2015. Here, Kim Engel, one of the co-authors of the report introduces its three main proposals.   Guidelines for civil servants Ideally governments would carry out controlled experiments to assess the wellbeing impact of every plausible policy. The most cost-effective policies would be implemented. Then further experimentation would be used to refine those policies. But in reality experiments require scarce resources like money, time and expertise. And there are still large methodological controversies surrounding the quantitative measurement of wellbeing. This leaves room for organisations such as the Civil Service to adopt other approaches to improving wellbeing. We proposed the use of a brief, one-page “wellbeing table” for making speedy estimates of wellbeing impact. The table would provide space to describe the probable effects of a policy on key determinants of wellbeing such as employment and mental health. It would come attached to a one-page “information table” highlighting the main conclusions of existing academic research into factors affecting wellbeing. School and university incentives A study involving more than 17,000 Britons found that “the most powerful childhood predictor of adult life-satisfaction is [a] child’s emotional health” (Layard et al., 2013). Yet schools currently have...

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Guest Blog: Bank of England’s Andy Haldane, A Recovery for the Few, Not the Many

Andrew G Haldane, Chief Economist, Bank of England takes a deeper look at the UK’s economic recovery up to the EU referendum.   At least up until the referendum, macro-economists like me would wax lyrical about the UK’s economic recovery.  The numbers spoke for themselves.  GDP was 7% higher than its pre-crisis peak.  More than 2 ½ million extra jobs had been created since 2010.  Almost £3 trillion of extra wealth had been amassed.  The UK was riding high at the top of the G7 growth league table. Yet for those of us who have toured the country, speaking...

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Bio-feedback video game for young people’s mental health

The challenge Young people aged 10 – 14 in the UK have some of the lowest levels of wellbeing in Europe. Low levels of wellbeing place young people at risk of developing mental health problems, and many young people do not have the skills to deal with stress, or moderate their emotional responses. Childhood and adolescence are critical times for developing these skills. However, despite the existence of proven methods for managing emotional responses using simple behaviours such as rhythmic breathing, there are almost no effective, mass scale, non-stigmatised interventions to help young people learn these methods. The intervention A video game that teaches...

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Guest blog: NPC's Dan Corry on Wellbeing over the life-course

  Dan Corry, Chief Executive of NPC and What Works Wellbeing board member, reports from the Wellbeing over the Life Course one day conference run by our Cross Cutting Team led by Lord Layard at London School of Economics (LSE). The Wellbeing juggernaut is well and truly ploughing on in the academic world as evidenced by a full day conference held recently at the LSE. Here, some of the best academics around presented draft chapters of a book due to come out soon, looking at wellbeing in many different ways. These included Richard Layard, Andrew Clark and Andrew Steptoe. Equally...

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