Ongoing work on child well-being

Ongoing OECD work aims at identifying policies to promote the well-being of children in the context of policy concerns about unequal opportunities and declining social mobility observed in many OECD countries. It assesses the barriers that currently prevent effective policy making and offer guidance for countries across a range of challenges on how to meet their ultimate goals of inclusive growth and better lives for all.

1. Child Well-being and Skill Development

  • The OECD Family database provides cross-national indicators on child outcomes, including information on material situation, health, educational outcomes, civic engagement and subjective well-being. Each indicator typically presents the data on a particular issue as well as relevant definitions and methodology, comparability and data issues, and includes information on differences in outcomes by socio-economic groups.
  • The International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study is designed to provide reliable, valid and comparable information on the  social,  emotional and cognitive development of children to assist countries to improve children’s early learning and well-being. The study is measuring children’s early learning development at approximately five years of age and also collecting information on contextual elements, such as children’s home learning environments and their participation in early childhood education and care. Further information is available on the study webpage and in the brochure.
  • The Study on Social and Emotional Skills is an international survey that assesses 10 and 15 year-old students in a number of cities and countries around the world, identifying the conditions and practices that foster or hinder the development of these critical skills.  
  • OECD Starting Strong Teaching and Learning International Survey will shed light on early childhood settings around the world from the perspective of those who are experiencing it first-hand. The survey builds on the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) by identifying strengths of and opportunities for early childhood learning environments across different countries and jurisdictions. It also aims to inform and facilitate policy discussions on staff’s work organisation and enhance the overall quality of the workforce.

  • The 21st Century Children looks at the nature of modern childhood and the ways in which schools and communities can work together to protect and guide children while still allowing them the flexibility to make their own mistakes.
  • PISA 2015 describes the well-being of 15-year-old students in a comparative way across a large number of countries by looking at their immediate home and school environment, their relationships with teachers, schoolmates and parents, their internet use, their physical activities and eating habits, their educational and work aspirations, their motivations and schoolwork-related anxiety, and their overall life satisfaction.
  • The OECD work on child well-being also looks at the mechanisms at play in the transmission of economic/social disadvantage and how to tackle it. The challenges raised by non-traditional family living environments are also explored. 

2. Child poverty

  • Joint OECD-UNICEF research analyses the causes of child poverty across countries, to identify best policy practice to combat child poverty and improve policy learning. The project compares measures of child poverty and links these with other aspects of material deprivation; identifies drivers of child poverty, and assesses the efficacy of policies to combat child poverty. Expected policy brief in mid-2018.

3. Child and family policies

  • The OECD family database provides cross-national information on child and family policies, including childcare policies, child maintenance systems, transfers and social expenditures twards families anf children
  • The OECD “Early Childhood Education and Care - Thematic Reviews” identify key elements of successful ECEC policies that are common to countries around the world. The reports offer an international perspective of ECEC systems;  discuss the strengths and opportunities of different approaches; and provide policy orientations that can help promote equitable access to high quality early childhood education and care.
  • The last few decades have produced evidence for a number of intervention strategies that can work to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children and families. However, interventions found to be effective in research studies often fail to translate into meaningful outcomes for children and families across multiple contexts. Thus the next challenge is to investigate strategies for implementing and refining interventions to achieve substantive increases in child well-being at the population level. The field of implementation science is providing an emerging body of work on why interventions found to be effective remain underutilised and how obstacles to delivery can be overcome to ensure citizens can access critical services. Ongoing work will review this literature as well as provide country examples of effective strategies.

4. Child Labour


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5. Protecting children online

  • As the Internet permeates every aspect of our economy and society, it has also become a daily reality in our children’s lives. While it brings considerable benefits to their education and development, it also exposes them to online risks such as access to inappropriate content, abusive interaction with others, exposure to aggressive marketing practices and privacy risks. OECD work in this area focuses on the protection of children as users of the Internet. It does not address child pornography in general or the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet. In 2018, the OECD is scoping developments to ensure the 2012 recommendation remains relevant in our increasingly digitalised world.

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