Changing the Odds for Vulnerable Children

Building Opportunities and Resilience

image of Changing the Odds for Vulnerable Children

Child vulnerability is the outcome of a range of complex factors that compound over time. Across the OECD, millions of children from diverse backgrounds face daily hardships ranging from poor housing and inadequate diets to maltreatment and unsafe neighbourhoods. Vulnerability locks disadvantaged children into disadvantaged adulthood, putting the brakes on social mobility. Investing in vulnerable children is not only an investment in disadvantaged individuals, families and communities, it is an investment in more resilient societies and inclusive economies.

This report analyses the individual and environmental factors that contribute to child vulnerability. It calls on OECD countries to develop and implement cross-cutting well-being strategies that focus on empowering vulnerable families; strengthening children’s emotional and social skills; strengthening child protection; improving children’s health and educational outcomes; and reducing child poverty and material deprivation. Such policies reduce the barriers to healthy child development and well-being and increase opportunities and resources, thereby helping vulnerable children build resilience.




The OECD has been at the forefront in documenting the rising levels of income inequality and the widening gap in terms of access to opportunities that have marked the past three decades. It has also taken a leading role in proposing policy approaches that can help countries make the turn towards more inclusive models of growth. The data make for a sobering read: the average disposable income of the richest 10% of the population is now around nine and a half times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from seven times 25 years ago. Wealth inequality is even more pronounced, with the top 10% owning half of total wealth, while the bottom 40% holds only 3%. The concentration of income, opportunities and assets at the top of the distribution partly reflects the fact that tax and transfer systems have become less progressive in many OECD countries over the past decades. In many emerging and developing countries, inequalities remain large and the institutional developments required to provide effective social safety nets remain slow to take off the ground.


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